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ZingPath: Naming Compounds

Chemical Formulas and Naming Covalent Compounds

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Naming Compounds

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Chemical Formulas and Naming Covalent Compounds


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You will apply the rules for naming covalent compounds by determining the names and chemical formulas for several covalent substances.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Describe the rules for naming covalent compounds.
  • Explain that a covalent compound consists of two different nonmetal elements.
  • Identify the Greek prefixes used to name covalent compounds for the numbers one
  • Determine the name of a covalent compound when given its chemical formula.
  • Determine the chemical formula of a covalent compound when given its name.

Everything You'll Have Covered

Covalent compounds consist of two or more nonmetal elements. Nonmetal elements are found on the right-hand side of the periodic table including the element hydrogen. The rules for naming covalent compounds were officially published in 1979 by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). The rules for naming organic covalent compounds continue to evolve as new substances are discovered. The rules for naming binary covalent compounds are as follows:

Rule 1: Write the element with the lower group number first followed by the one with the higher group number.

Rule 2: The second element in the covalent compound has the suffix -ide added to its name.

Rule 3: Greek prefixes are used to cite the number of atoms for each nonmetal element in the compound's chemical formula.

Rule 4: If there is one atom of the first element in the compound, the prefix "mono-" should not be used for that element.

Rule 5: The element with the higher period number is written first when both elements are in the same group in the covalent compound.

Rule 6: The name of the halogen should be written first when covalent compounds contain both oxygen and halogen elements.

Rule 7: The "a" or "o" at the end of the Greek prefix is usually dropped when the addition of the Greek prefixes place two vowels next to one another.

The following is a list of Greek prefixes used to name covalent compounds.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 20 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Learners should be familiar with compounds, covalent compounds, elements, element symbols, groups, metals, metalloids, nonmetals, periodic table, and periods.
Course Chemistry
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary atoms, chemical, chemical formula