MCAT Organic Chemistry Review

Aldehyde and Ketones II: Enolates

Introduction

In the previous chapter, we took a look at a few key properties and reactions of aldehydes and ketones. These molecules have highly predictable chemistry centered on their electrophilic, positively charged carbonyl carbon and will be sure to show up on Test Day. In this chapter, we take a look at several more properties of aldehydes and ketones, and focus on the reactivity of the α-hydrogen of carbonyl-containing compounds. The acidity of this α-hydrogen allows many aldehydes and ketones to act as both electrophiles and nucleophiles. Sometimes, they can even serve both functions in the same reaction. But don’t worry—we’ll also review some tips about how to understand when and how aldehydes and ketones will react.