Chemguide: Support for CIE A level Chemistry

Learning outcome 13

13.2: Characteristic organic reactions

Statements 13.2.1 and 13.2.2

These statements cover a large number of words that are used in organic chemistry. Find the statements in your copy of the syllabus.

I have no intention of working through, and explaining, all these words at this stage. I could only do that by giving you a lot of examples which wouldn't mean anything to you at the moment. That is confusing, and could put you off organic chemistry for ever!

You will meet these terms a few at a time during the rest of the course. For example, you will meet the terms "electrophile" and "addition" when you look at the chemistry of alkenes. Those words will be explored in detail as a part of that section, and it will all make sense. Then, a week or so later, you will come across other words as a part of the chemistry of a different sort of compound. It will be much less confusing doing it like this.

What I suggest you do is to make a list of the words in 13.2.1 and 13.2.2, and then add a quick description of what each word means with an example of its use as you come across it during the course. That would be quite useful for revision purposes later.

The only term I will explain now is homologous series.

Homologous series

A homologous series is just a family of similar compounds, having the same functional group, and so similar chemical properties. There will be a steady change in the physical properties of the members of the series as the number of carbon atoms in the compound increase.

So for example, the alkenes are hydrocarbons with chains of carbon atoms containing a carbon-carbon double bond. They all have similar chemical reactions because of this bond. They turn from gases to liquids to low melting point solids as the number of carbon atoms increase.

The bulk of an organic chemistry course consists of looking at the reactions of homologous series - alkanes, alkenes, alcohols and so on.

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© Jim Clark 2020