MCAT Organic Chemistry Review

Carboxylic Acid Derivatives

Introduction

We saw in the previous three chapters that carbonyls are susceptible to attack by everything from water to amines to other carbonyl-containing compounds (in the enol or enolate form). These reactions often result in the formation of carboxylic acid derivatives. Our focus in this chapter will be on describing the carboxylic acid derivatives that appear on the MCAT: amides, esters, and anhydrides. Each of these molecules replaces the –OH on the carboxyl group with another leaving group (–NR2, –OR, and –OCOR, respectively). These each react in similar ways to carboxylic acids. Many of these functional groups are also critical for biochemical processes.