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Naming Covalent Compounds - Concept

Teacher/Instructor Kendal Orenstein
Kendal Orenstein

Rutger's University
M.Ed., Columbia Teachers College

Kendal founded an academic coaching company in Washington D.C. and teaches in local area schools. In her spare time she loves to explore new places.

In naming covalent compounds, each element in a covalent compounds needs a prefix to denote the number of atoms of that element. These prefixes are Greek (mon-, di-, tri-, etc) and the last element in the formula also gets the suffix "-ide."

Alright so we're going to talk about covalent boding and naming. Covalent bonding is a result from chemical bonds resulting from sharing the valence electrons the atom electrons in an atom, they actually share those guys and they transfer those. So that's one of the main difference and the things that are involved in covalent bonding are 2 or more non-metals. The non-metals are the elements in the far right hand side of the periodic table. Okay so when we bring those together, they don't necessarily have to be a certain way like a ratio of ions like they do in ionic bonds. So they can come together and multiple ways, they can come together like nitrogen and fluorine can come together as NF3 or they can come together as N2F4 so how do we decipher those? Well but first we, we're actually just going to give them prefixes so in order to actually make it easier, we're just going to put prefixes in front of all of the atoms to deicide how many of them there are. So it's pretty straight forward and easy. So for example, let me grab a pen real quick, if we were to look at NF3 we're going say nitrogen, we're just going to name the first guy and there're 3 fluorines so we're going to say trifluoride notice two things.

Notice I didn't care that there's one nitrogen there I don't have to say mono-nitrogen, if there's a one, if there's a single element a the fast element you do not have to include mono, it is already assumed there's one of them. Let's go and look at this one, we call since there're 2 nitrogens we're going to say dinitrogen since there're 4 fluorines we're going to say tetrafluoride. It's pretty simple, okay just to retaliate on this rule the first element does not need mono and sometimes you might double up, you might see something that doubles up on the O's don't do that. So for example we have CO, if we were to follow the prefix rules so we'd say monocarbon monoxide that's not going to happen. We don't need this mono here, we can just say carbon and I don't want to double up on this O so I'm just going to say monoxide.

Because as we know CO is carbon monoxide and that's pretty much everything on naming covalent compounds.