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# Definition of electric charge

An object carries an electric charge if it can exert a force on other charged objects.

Protons carry a positive ($\Tred{+}$) charge while electrons carry an equal negative ($\Tblue{-}$) charge. Neutrons have no charge.

The total or net charge of an object is equal to the sum of all the positive charges from protons and the negative charges from electrons.

The electric shock you sometimes get when you touch an object is caused by the transfer of charges from the object to your hand.

Any charged object (with a net positive or negative charge) carries an unequal number of protons and electrons. If an object has an imbalance of protons and electrons, it is said to be charged. The imbalance of charges is called static electricity.

If an object carries more electrons than protons, it is negatively charged.

A lithium ion with 3 protons, 4 neutrons and 2 electrons will have the same positive net charge as a single proton.

(Left to right) A positive proton, a neutral neutron and a negative electron (not to scale).