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How are acids named?

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Quick Answer

Acids are named according to the guidelines provided by the standardized scientific body known as the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemists, or IUPAC. The general basis for naming various acidic compounds is the corresponding anion comprising these chemical substances.

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Full Answer

Acids are generally categorized into two basic groups, namely binary acids and ternary acids.

Binary Acids

A binary acid is formed when a binary compound containing hydrogen and a halogen breaks down in an aqueous solution. In naming binary acids, the prefix "hydro-" is used, followed by changing the ending of the anion from "-ide" to "-ic" and finally adding the word "acid." The binary compounds "hydrogen chloride" and "hydrogen fluoride" become "hydrochloric acid" and "hydrofluoric acid," respectively, when dissolved in water.

Ternary Acids

A ternary acid, also known as "oxo" acid, is formed when a ternary compound consisting of hydrogen and a polyatomic anion produces hydrogen ions in an aqueous solution. In naming ternary acids with polyatomic anions ending in "-ate", the ending is changed to "-ic," while those ending in "-ite" are changed to "-ous." The word "acid" is then added at the end of the derived name. The ternary compounds "hydrogen sulfate" and "hydrogen nitrite" become "sulfuric acid" and "nitrous acid," respectively, when dissolved in water.

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