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Types of Compounds

Ionic compounds are compounds composed of ions, charged particles that form when an atom (or group of atoms, in
the case of polyatomic ions) gains or loses electrons.
 A cation is a positively charged ion
 An anion is a negatively charged ion.
Covalent or molecular compounds form when elements share electrons in a covalent bond to form molecules.
Molecular compounds are electrically neutral.
Ionic compounds are (usually) formed when a metal reacts with a nonmetal (or a polyatomic ion). Covalent compounds
are formed when two nonmetals react with each other. Since hydrogen is a nonmetal, binary compounds containing
hydrogen are also usually covalent compounds.
 Metal + Nonmetal —> ionic compound (usually)
 Metal + Polyatomic ion —> ionic compound (usually)
 Nonmetal + Nonmetal —> covalent compound (usually)
 Hydrogen + Nonmetal —> covalent compound (usually)

Types of Ions:
Main-Group Metals (Groups IA, IIA, and IIIA)
Group IA, IIA, and IIIA metals tend to form cations by losing all of their outermost (valence) electrons. The charge on the
cation is the same as the group number. The cation is given the same name as the neutral metal atom.
Ions of Some Main-Group Metals (Groups IA - IIIA)

Group Element Cation Ion name

IA H H+ hydrogen ion

Li Li+ lithium ion

Na Na+ sodium ion

K K+ potassium ion

Cs Cs+ cesium ion

IIA Mg Mg2+ magnesium ion

Ca Ca2+ calcium ion

Sr Sr2+ strontium ion

Ba Ba2+ barium ion

IIIA Al Al3+ aluminum ion

Transition (B-group) and Post-Transition (Group IVA and VA) Metals

These elements usually form ionic compounds; many of them can form more than one cation. (The charges of the
common transition metals must be memorized; Group IV and V metal cations tend to be either the group number, or
the group number minus two.)
 Many of these ions have common or trivial names formed from the stem of the element name (the Latin name
in some cases) plus the ending -ic or -ous. (-ic endings go with the higher possible charge, -ous endings go with
the lower possible charge).
 The systematic names (also known as the Stock system) for these ions are derived by naming the metal first,
followed in parentheses by the charge written in Roman numerals. For the metals below that typically form only
one charge, it is not usually necessary to specify the charge in the compound name.
 For example, iron can form two possible ions, 2+ and 3+. The Fe2+ ion is known as the ferrous ion (common) or
the iron(II) ion (systematic); the Fe3+ ion is known as the ferric ion (common) or the iron(III) ion (systematic).
The mercury(I) cation is a special case; it consists of two Hg+ ions joined together, and so is always found as Hg22+.
(Hence, mercury(I) chloride is Hg2Cl2, not HgCl, while mercury (II) chloride is HgCl2.)
Ions of Some Transition Metals and Post-Transition Metals (Groups IVA and VA)

Metal Ion Systematic name Common name

Cadmium Cd2+ cadmium ion

Chromium Cr2+ chromium(II) ion chromous ion

Cr3+ chromium(III) ion chromic ion

Cobalt Co2+ cobalt(II) ion cobaltous ion

Co3+ cobalt(III) ion cobaltic ion

Copper Cu+ copper(I) ion cuprous ion

Cu2+ copper(II) ion cupric ion

Gold Au3+ gold(III) ion

Iron Fe2+ iron(II) ion ferrous ion

Fe3+ iron(III) ion ferric ion

Manganese Mn2+ manganese(II) ion manganous ion

Mn3+ manganese(III) ion manganic ion

Mercury Hg22+ mercury(I) ion mercurous ion

Hg2+ mercury(II) ion mercuric ion

Nickel Ni2+ nickel(II) ion nickelous ion

Silver Ag+ silver ion

Zinc Zn2+ zinc ion

—————— ——— ———————— ————————

Tin Sn2+ tin(II) ion stannous ion

Sn4+ tin(IV) ion stannic ion

Lead Pb2+ lead(II) ion plumbous ion

Pb4+ lead(IV) ion plumbic ion

Bismuth Bi3+ bismuth(III) ion

Bi5+ bismuth(V) ion

Main-Group Nonmetals (Groups IVA, VA, VIA, and VIIA)

Group IVA, VA, VIA, and VIIA nonmetals tend to form anions by gaining enough electrons to fill their valence shell with
eight electrons. The charge on the anion is the group number minus eight. The anion is named by taking the element
stem name and adding the ending -ide.
Ions of Some Nonmetals (Groups IVA - VIIA)

Group Element Anion Ion name

IVA C C4- carbide ion

Si Si4- silicide ion

VA N N3- nitride ion

P P3- phosphide ion

As As3- arsenide ion

VIA O O2- oxide ion

S S2- sulfide ion

VIA Se Se2- selenide ion

Te Te2- telluride ion

VIIA F F- fluoride ion

Cl Cl- chloride ion

Br Br- bromide ion

I I- iodide ion

IA H H- hydride ion

Polyatomic Ions
Polyatomic ions are ions that are composed of two or more atoms that are linked by covalent bonds, but that still have a
net deficiency or surplus of electrons, resulting in an overall charge on the group.
A metal plus a polyatomic ion yields an ionic compound.
Formulas and Names of Some Polyatomic Ions

Formula Name

NH4+ ammonium

H3O+ hydronium

OH- hydroxide

CN- cyanide

O22- peroxide

N3- azide

NO2- nitrite

NO3- nitrate

ClO- hypochlorite

ClO2- chlorite

ClO3- chlorate

ClO4- perchlorate

MnO4- permanganate

C2H3O2- acetate (OAc-)

C2O42- oxalate

CO32- carbonate

OCN- cyanate

SCN- thiocyanate

S2O32- thiosulfate

CrO42- chromate
Cr2O72- dichromate

SO42- sulfate

SO32- sulfite

PO43- phosphate

PO43- monohydrogen phosphate

PO43- dihydrogen phosphate

HCO3- hydrogen carbonate (bicarbonate)

HSO4- hydrogen sulfate (bisulfate)

HSO3- hydrogen sulfite (bisulfite)

There are some regularities in the names of these polyatomic ions.

 Thio- implies replacing an oxygen atom with a sulfur atom:

OCN- cyanate SO42- sulfate

SCN- thiocyanate S2O32- thiosulfate

 Replacing the first element in the formula with another element from the same group gives a polyatomic ion
with the same charge, and a similar name:

Group VIIA Group VIA

ClO3- chlorate SO42- sulfate

BrO3- bromate SeO42- selenate

IO3- iodate TeO42- tellurate

Group VA* Group IVA

PO43- phosphate CO32- carbonate

AsO43- arsenate SiO32- silicate

* But note that nitrogen does not follow this pattern (i.e., nitrate, NO3-)

 Some nonmetals form a series of polyatomic ions with oxygen (all having the same charge): ClO-, hypochlorite;
ClO2-, chlorite; ClO3-, chlorate; ClO4-, perchlorate.
 The -ate forms (formula and charge) must be memorized. In some cases, the -ate form has three
oxygens, and in some cases four oxygens. The charge is the same for the entire series.
 The -ite form has one less oxygen that the -ate form.
 The hypo- stem -ite form has two less oxygens than the -ate form.
 The per- stem -ate form has one more oxygen than the -ate form.
 The -ide form is the monatomic anion (see Main-Group Nonmetals)
 The general rules for such series are summarized in the table below:

Formula Name

XOny- stem + -ate

XOn-1y- stem + -ite

XOn-2y- hypo- + stem + -ite

XOn+1y- per- + stem + -ate

Xy- stem + -ide


SO42- sulfate

SO32- sulfite

SO22- hyposulfite

SO52- persulfate

S2- sulfide

Writing Formulas of Ionic Compounds

1. The cation is written first, followed by the monatomic or polyatomic anion.
2. The subscripts in the formula must produce an electrically neutral formula unit. (That is, the total amount of
positive charge must equal the total amount of negative charge.)
3. The subscripts should be the smallest set of whole numbers possible.
4. If there is only one of a polyatomic ion in the formula, do not place parentheses around it; e.g., NaNO3, not
Na(NO3). If there is more than one of a polyatomic ion in the formula, put the ion in parentheses, and place the
subscript after the parentheses; e.g., Ca(OH)2, Ba3(PO4)2, etc.
Remember the Prime Directive in writing formulas:
Ca(OH)2 ¹ CaOH2 !

Cation Anion Formula

Na+ Cl- NaCl

Ca2+ Br- CaBr2

Na+ S2- Na2S

Mg2+ O2- MgO

Fe3+ O2- Fe2O3

Na+ SO42- Na2SO4

Mg2+ NO3- Mg(NO3)2

NH4+ SO42- (NH4)2SO4

Nomenclature of Ionic and Covalent Compounds

1. Binary Ionic Compounds Containing a Metal and a Nonmetal.
A binary compound is a compound formed from two different elements. There may or may not be more than one of
each element. A diatomic compound (or diatomic molecule) contains two atoms, which may or may not be the same.

Cl2 Not binary (only one type of atom), but diatomic (two atoms)

BrCl Binary (two different elements), and diatomic (two atoms)

H2O Binary (two different elements), but not diatomic (more than two atoms)

CH4 Binary (two different elements), but not diatomic (more than two atoms)

CHCl3 Neither binary nor diatomic

Metals combine with nonmetals to give ionic compounds. When naming binary ionic compounds, name the cation first
(specifying the charge, if necessary), then the nonmetal anion (element stem + -ide).
Do NOT use prefixes to indicate how many of each element is present; this information is implied in the name of the

NaCl Sodium chloride

AlBr3 Aluminum bromide

Ca3P2 Calcium phosphide

SrI2 Strontium iodide

Iron(II) chloride or ferrous chloride

FeCl2 The cation charge must be specified
since iron can form more than one charge.

2. Ionic Compounds Containing a Metal and a Polyatomic Ion.

Metals combine with polyatomic ions to give ionic compounds. Name the cation first (specifying the charge, if
necessary), then the polyatomic ion as listed in the table above (or as derived from the rules which were given).
Do NOT use prefixes to indicate how many of each element is present; this information is implied in the name of the

NaOH Sodium hydroxide

Ca(NO3)2 Calcium nitrate

K3PO4 Potassium phosphate

(NH4)2SO4 Ammonium sulfate

NH4F Ammonium fluoride

CaCO3 Calcium carbonate

Mg(C2H3O2)2 Magnesium acetate

Fe(OH)3 Iron(III) hydroxide or ferrous hydroxide

Cr3(PO4)2 Chromium(II) phosphate

CrPO4 Chromium(III) phosphate

NaHCO3 Sodium hydrogen carbonate or sodium bicarbonate

3. Acids and Acid Salts.

Acids are compounds in which the "cation" is H+. (These are not really ionic compounds, but we'll get into that later.)
These can be named as compounds as in the previous cases, e.g., HCl is "hydrogen chloride", but are more frequently
given special "acid names" (especially when dissolved in water, which is most frequently the case.) The word "hydrogen"
is omitted, the word "acid" is added to the end; the suffix is changed as shown below:

Compound name Acid name

-ate -ic + acid

-ite -ous + acid

-ide hydro- -ic + acid


Example Compound Name Acid name

HClO3 hydrogen chlorate chloric acid

H2SO4 hydrogen sulfate sulfuric acid

HClO2 hydrogen chlorite chlorous acid

HCl hydrogen chloride hydrochloric acid

Acid salts are ionic compounds that still contain an acidic hydrogen, such as NaHSO4. In naming these salts, specify the
number of acidic hydrogens in the salt. For instance:

NaHSO4 sodium hydrogen sulfate

NaH2PO4 sodium dihydrogen phosphate

Na2HPO4 sodium hydrogen phosphate

NaHCO3 sodium hydrogen carbonate or sodium bicarbonate

The prefix bi- implies an acidic hydrogen: thus, NaHCO3 is sodium bicarbonate (or sodium hydrogen carbonate);
NaHSO3 is sodium bisulfite (or sodium hydrogen sulfite), etc.

4. Binary Covalent Compounds Between Two Nonmetals.

Two nonmetals combine to form a covalent or molecular compound (i.e., one that is held together by covalent
bonds which result from the sharing of electrons).
In many cases, two elements can combine in several different ways to make completely different compounds. (This
cannot happen with ionic compounds, except in the cases of metals that can form more than one charge.) For instance,
carbon can share electrons with one oxygen to make CO (carbon monoxide), or with two oxygens to make CO2 (carbon
dioxide). For this reason, it is necessary to specify how many of each element is present within the compound.
 The formula is written with the more electropositive element (the one further to the left on the periodic
table) placed first, then the more electronegative element (the one further to the right on the periodic
[Important exception: when the compound contains oxygen and a halogen, the halogen is placed first. If both elements
are in the same group, the one with the higher period number is named first.]
 The first element in the formula is given the neutral element name, and the second one is named by
replacing the ending of the neutral element name with -ide. A prefix is used in front of each element
name to indicate how many atoms of that element are present:

1 mono-

2 di-

3 tri-
4 tetra-

5 penta-

6 hexa-

7 hepta-

8 octa-

9 nona-

10 deca-

 If there is only one of the first element in the formula, the mono- prefix is dropped.

SO2 sulfur dioxide

SO3 sulfur trioxide

N2O dinitrogen monoxide

NO nitrogen monoxide

NO2 nitrogen dioxide

N2O4 dinitrogen tetroxide

N2O5 dinitrogen pentoxide

5. Hydrocarbons.
Hydrocarbons contain only carbon and hydrogen, and are the simplest type of organic compound (a compound
containing carbon).
Alkanes contain only carbon-carbon single bonds, and are the simplest of the hydrocarbons.
The simplest of the alkanes are the straight-chain alkanes, in which all of the carbon atoms are linked together in a line,
with no branches. (They don't get simpler than that!)
Alkanes have the general formula CnH2n+2, and are the constituents of several important fuels, such as natural gas and
Organic chemistry has a completely different set of rules for nomenclature; straight-chain alkanes are named using a
prefix plus the suffix -ane. Notice that after C4, the prefixes are the same as those listed above for binary covalent

CH4 methane

C2H6 ethane

C3H8 propane
C4H10 butane

C5H12 pentane

C6H14 hexane

C7H16 heptane

C8H18 octane

C9H20 nonane

C10H22 decane

(Because of the tremendous variety of possible organic compounds [over six million, and still counting], the rules for
naming structures more complex than the staight-chain alkanes are much more elaborate than those that those we've
seen so far, but those rules will be discussed when you take organic chemistry.)

Naming Acids

Naming System for Acids

Anion Suffix Example Name of Acid Example

-ide chloride (Cl-) hydro_____ic acid hydrochloric acid (HCl)

-ate sulfate (SO42-) _____ic acid sulfuric acid (H2SO4)

-ite nitrite (NO2-) _____ous acid nitrous acid (HNO2)

The three different suffixes that are possible for the anions lead to the three rules below.
1. When the anion ends in –ide, the acid name begins with the prefix hydro-. The root of the anion name
goes in the blank (chlor for chloride), followed by the suffix –ic. HCl is hydrochloric acid because Cl- is
the chloride ion. HCN is hydrocyanic acid because CN- is the cyanide ion.
2. When the anion ends in –ate, the name of the acid is the root of the anion followed by the suffix –ic.
There is no prefix. H2SO4 is sulfuric acid (not sulfic) because SO42- is the sulfate ion.
3. When the anion ends in –ite, the name of the acid is the root of the anion followed by the suffix –ous.
Again, there is no prefix. HNO2 is nitrous acid because NO2- is the nitrite ion.
Note how the root for a sulfur-containing oxoacid is sulfur- instead of just sulf-. The same is true for a
phosphorus-containing oxoacid. The root is phosphor- instead of simply phosph-.
Many foods and beverages contain citric acid. Vinegar is a dilute solution of acetic acid.
Car batteries contain sulfuric acid that helps in the release of electrons to create electricity.

Writing Formulas for Acids

Like other compounds that we have studied, acids are electrically neutral. Therefore, the charge of
the anion part of the formula must be exactly balanced out by the H+ ions. Since H+ ions carry a
single negative charge, the number of H+ ions in the formula is equal to the quantity of the negative
charge on the anion. Two examples from the table above illustrate this point. The chloride ion
carries a 1− charge, so only one H is needed in the formula of the acid (HCl). The sulfate ion carries
a 2− charge, so two H’s are needed in the formula of the acid (H2SO4). Another way to think about
writing the correct formula is to utilize the crisscross method, shown below for sulfuric acid.

Names and Formulas of Bases

There is no special system for naming bases. Since they all contain the OH- anion, names of bases
end in hydroxide. The cation is simply named first. Some examples of names and formulas for
bases are shown in the Table below.

Formula Name

NaOH sodium hydroxide

Ca(OH)2 calcium hydroxide

NH4OH ammonium hydroxide

Notice that because bases are ionic compounds, the number of hydroxides in the formula does not
affect the name. The compound must be neutral, so the charges of the ions are balanced just as for
other ionic compounds. Sodium ion (Na+) requires one OH- ion to balance the charge, so the formula
is NaOH. Calcium ion (Ca2+) requires two OH- ions to balance the charge, so the formula is
Ca(OH)2. Hydroxide ion is a polyatomic ion and must be put in parentheses when there are more
than on in a formula.

 Bases are ionic compounds that produce hydroxide ions when dissolved in water.
 The cation is named first followed by “hydroxide.”

Naming Salts (Ionic Compounds)

Salts are ionic compounds which, when dissolved in water, break up completely into ions. They
arise by the reaction of acids with bases, and they always contain either a metal cation or a
cation derived from ammonium (NH4+).

Examples of salts include NaCl, NH4F, MgCO3, and Fe2(HPO4)3.

Salts are named by listing the names of their component ions, cation first, then anion. This
involves three distinct steps.

Step 1: Split the Formula in Two

Start by making a vertical slice through the formula just after the metal or ammonium:

NaCl Na|Cl


MgCO3 Mg|CO3

Fe2(HPO4)3 Fe2|(HPO4)3

Step 2: Determine the Charges On the Ions

Determine the ions and their charges on each half. This is definitely the tricky part. Seven rules
here are helpful:

 Rule 1: Group 1 metals (Li – Fr) are all 1+

 Rule 2: Group 2 metals (Be – Ra) are all 2+
 Rule 3: Aluminum is 3+; Ammonium is 1+
 Rule 4: All other metals require a Roman numeral
 Rule 5: Group 7 nonmetals (F – I) are all 1–
 Rule 6: Group 6 nonmetals (O – Te) AS ANIONS are usually 2–
 Rule 7: The overall charge must be 0

For example:

NaCl Na|Cl Na+|Cl–

NH4F NH4|F NH4+|F–

MgCO3 Mg|CO3 Mg2+|CO32–

Fe2(HPO4)3 Fe2|(HPO4)3 Fe3+|HPO42–

Step 3: Name the Ions

Then name those ions:

NaCl Na+|Cl– sodium chloride

NH4F NH4+|F– ammonium fluoride

MgCO3 Mg2+|CO32– magnesium carbonate

Fe2(HPO4)3 Fe3+|HPO42– iron(III) hydrogen phosphate

Those ions, by the way, are called the principal species in solution for the salt. Figuring out the
principal species in solution just this way gets to be REALLY important when you study
equilibrium. You'll need to know those charges too, so you might as well learn them now and
get it over with.

Tips for Success

A few more tips may be helpful:

 There's no way around memorizing element names. Just do it.

 Rule 7 is far more valuable than most beginners realize.
o Can't remember or figure out the charge on the cation? Figure it out for the anion

and make it all add up to 0.

o Can't figure out the charge on the anion? Any chance Rule 1, 2, or 3 applies? If so,

figure out the anion charge from the cation charge using Rule 7.
 Stuck because you have a transition metal, such as Fe or Mn, and can't remember the
charge on the anion? Look around for other examples of the anion being used. For
example, say you have to name FeSO4 and you can't remember the charge on SO4. If you
find "Na2SO4" somewhere else on the exam, quiz, or in the book, you're home free. With
this information you'll know that SO4 must be 2–, and therefore the charge on Fe must be
 If you know your strong acids, then you know "H2SO4." H here is H+, and the overall
charge is 0. So SO4 must be 2–. Similarly,
o HNO3 gives NO3–,

o HClO3 gives ClO3–, and

o HClO4 gives ClO4–.

 This works with weak acids, too, if you can remember them, such as H2CO3 and H3PO4.
 Learn lots of acid names, because they help here.
o X-ic acids give X-ate anions (sulfuric/sulfate, nitric/nitrate)

o X-ous acids give X-ite anions (nitrous/nitrite)