The chemical symbol for oxygen is O, and it is frequently written as O2. This is because when oxygen is not chemically combined with anything else, it hangs around with a buddy. Oxygen is said to be a diatomic molecule, and that's how we encounter it in air. It is a member of the chalcogengroup on the periodic table and is a highly reactivenonmetallic element and oxidizing agent that readily formscompounds (notably oxides) with most elements.