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Organic Chemistry

Structures and Nomenclature

How do chemists name so many different hydrocarbons?

With a bunch of rules! Let’s start with just straight chains of carbon atoms. Here we just need to define how many carbon atoms there are in the molecule. If the molecule doesn’t have any double bonds, we use the suffix “-ane.” The prefix indicates how many carbon atoms there are. Most of these prefixes are based on Greek numbers (one is Latin, and a few are just weird). Collectively, these molecules are called alkanes.

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