What are the Rules of Naming a Compound in Chemistry?


How are Chemical Compounds Named?

Chemical nomenclature is the process of naming compounds. Naming compounds is important to allow scientists to identify and recognise the different compounds. When naming molecular compounds prefixes are used to dictate the number of a given element present in the compound. For example:

  • “mono-” indicates one,
  • “di-” indicates two,
  • “tri-” is three,
  • “tetra-” is four,
  • “penta-” is five,
  •  “hexa-” is six,
  • “hepta-” is seven,
  • “octo-” is eight,
  • “nona-” is nine,
  • and “deca” is ten.

For a more in depth explanation check out this video.

How do you know whether to use 'ide' or 'ate', when naming a compound?

-ide is used for non-metal compounds generally. For example, Chlorine forms a chloride ion, so NaCl is Sodium Chloride. -ate and -ite are commonly used for polyatomic ions of Oxygen. -ate is used for the ion that has the largest number of Oxygen atoms. The -ite would be used for the ion with the smaller. NO2 and NO3 are known as Nitrite and Nitrate respectively. Nitrite has a smaller number of oxygen atoms so when added to an element it will be _ Nitrite. On the other than, Nitrate has a larger number of Oxygen atoms so when added to an element it is _ Nitrate Share your tips and advice for learning the names of chemical compounds in the comments.    

Answers
Hi,
mjhansford
31 May 2013
-ide is used for non-metal compounds generally. For example, Chlorine forms a chloride ion, so NaCl is Sodium Chloride. -ate and -ite are commonly used for polyatomic ions of Oxygen. -ate is used for the ion that has the largest number of Oxygen atoms. the -ite would be used for the ion with the smaller. NO2 and NO3 are known as Nitrite and Nitrate respectively. Nitrite has a smaller number of oxygen atoms so when added to an element it will be _ Nitrite. On the other than, Nitrate has a larger number of Oxygen atoms so when added to an element it is _ Nitrate.Hope that helps!
mjhansford
31 May 2013
thank you! this helped loads
ellsbells7
26 June 2013
how are you meant to know whether it's the maximum or fewer (ate or ite) for a polyatomic ion? just memorize...?
ree
23 October 2020
Thanks for your suggestion
Abhishek Kumar
26 October 2020
@ree yes the only thing you can do to remember polyatomic atoms is to memorize them
Cat
13 November 2020
That helped thanks
Dai
27 December 2020
When I took chemistry in high school the instructor said that the ate and ite suffixes depended on the charge of the cation, that is, ate has a higher positive charge than ite. Of course, this does correlate exactly with your definition. Just a bit of slightly interesting info.
Carlos
29 January 2021
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