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Naming Binary Molecular Compounds

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Naming Binary Molecular Compounds

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Binary molecules, or molecules composed of only two types of atoms, are relatively simple to name.

Let's walk through this guide with the molecule NO2.

A binary molecule is named "prefix-element1 prefix-element2-'ide'."

To make sense of this: You add a prefix to the first element followed by a prefix added to the second element and the suffix "ide" added to the second element.

The prefix in front of the elements correlates to the number of atoms of each in one molecule. Consult with the table below for prefixes.

Numerical Prefixes

Number of Atoms

Prefix

1

mono-

2

di-

3

tri-

4

tetra-

5

penta-

6

hexa-

7

hepta-

8

octa-

9

nona-

10

deca-

Thus, NO2 would be Nitrogen dioxide.

Beware! There are some other rules to take into account as well.

1. When there is only one atom of an element in a compound and it is the first element in the formula, omit the prefix mono. For example, CO2 is not Monocarbon dioxide but is Carbon dioxide.

2. Generally, the less-electronegative element is written first in the formula, though there are a few exceptions.  Carbon is always first in a formula and hydrogen is after nitrogen in a formula such as NH3.  The order of common nonmetals in binary compound formulas is C, P, N, H, S, I, Br, Cl, O, F.

Why is CaClnot named Calcium dichloride?

How do you name Cl2O7?

For help answering these questions or for more information, look here.

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