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How do you know what elements will bond in a reaction?

I know all about the types of reactions, synthesis, decomp. etc., but when a bond is broken, how do you know that the free element will bond to another molecule?

Is it because that element has a higher electronegativity? Is it because the product is lower energy?

Why does the free element choose a specific element to bond and how do I know what element it’ll bond with?

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