Introductory Chemistry: A Foundation - Zumdahl S.S., DeCoste D.J. 2019

Naming Compounds


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When chemistry was an infant science, there was no system for naming compounds. Names such as sugar of lead, blue vitriol, quicklime, Epsom salts, milk of magnesia, gypsum, and laughing gas were coined by early chemists. Such names are called common names. As our knowledge of chemistry grew, it became clear that using common names for compounds was not practical. More than four million chemical compounds are currently known. Memorizing common names for all these compounds would be impossible.

The solution, of course, is a system for naming compounds in which the name tells something about the composition of the compound. After learning the system, you should be able to name a compound when you are given its formula. And, conversely, you should be able to construct a compound’s formula, given its name. In the next few sections we will specify the most important rules for naming compounds other than organic compounds (those based on chains of carbon atoms).


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Naming Compounds


· To learn two broad classes of binary compounds.

We will begin by discussing the system for naming binary compounds —compounds composed of two elements. We can divide binary compounds into two broad classes:

1. Compounds that contain a metal and a nonmetal

2. Compounds that contain two nonmetals

We will describe how to name compounds in each of these classes in the next several sections. Then, in succeeding sections, we will describe the systems used for naming more complex compounds.