The charges between the atoms and the availability of valance electrons in the shells and subshells of the nucleus.
It has to do with the charge of each. Atoms of different elements all have their own charge, which is determined by the number of protons and electrons in each. When there are the same number of protons and electrons, the charge is neutral. When there are more protons, it is positive, and when there are more electrons, it is negative.
Atoms will strive to reach a neutral charge, which means that they will link with other atoms that have what they need. If an atom has a charge of -2 (there are two more protons than electrons), it will link up with atoms that can supply the 2 missing protons. This is how we get water.
There's more to it, obviously, but that's a quick explanation of why :-)
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