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12.4: Common Names of Aldehydes and Ketones

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Organic Chemistry

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Common Names of Aldehydes and Ketones

12.4: Common Names of Aldehydes and Ketones

Some common aldehydes and ketones are popularly known by their common names used historically and predate the IUPAC nomenclature.   

Common names of aldehydes are derived from the names of their corresponding acid. For instance, the two-carbon aldehyde–acetaldehyde derives its name from the corresponding acid–acetic acid. Similarly, formaldehyde derives its name from formic acid and benzaldehyde from benzoic acid.

Aliphatic ketones are named by suffixing the word “ketone” to the alphabetically arranged names of the groups that flank the carbonyl group. For instance, the ketone below has methyl and ethyl groups on either side of the carbonyl group. Hence the compound is named ethyl methyl ketone.     


Some aromatic ketones are named “phenones”. The word phenone is prefixed with the name of the acyl group attached to the aromatic ring. Depending upon the alkyl or aryl group present, different names are given to the acyl groups. For instance, if the methyl group is present, the compound gets the name acetophenone, and the presence of the phenyl group gives the name benzophenone.

Figurea               Figureb


Common Names Aldehydes Ketones IUPAC Nomenclature Acetaldehyde Acetic Acid Formaldehyde Formic Acid Benzaldehyde Benzoic Acid Aliphatic Ketones Ketone Carbonyl Group Ethyl Methyl Ketone Aromatic Ketones Phenones Acyl Group Acetophenone Benzophenone

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