Instead of to teach a set of nomenclature rules, which is the typical approach, I"d favor to strategy your discovering of chemistry nomenclature in a method similar to discovering a foreign language.

The photo here is of the Louvre Museum in Paris. If you were to relocate to Paris, you would begin learning the language little by small by listening. In various other words you could start to discover a few words that provides you part idea the what is gift said. Because that example, if friend hear "we", you discover that is the French native "Oui" definition yes. Also if you didn"t understand anything else, you would at least recognize that someone was agreeing through someone else.

You are watching: What does the suffix ide mean in chemistry


In chemistry you don"t even need a totality word, yet just a valuation to gain some valuable information. Because that example, you were walking through these two guys and also you heard part of the conversation:

"When friend mix ___ium ___ide with the ___ide ion the systems turns yellow."

The finishing of "ium" tells you that they are most likely talking around a steel (like sodium, calcium, potassium, etc.). There are only three exceptions: "helium" and also the heavy isotopes that hydrogen: deuterium & tritium.

The valuation of "ide" tells us that this is a compound consisted of of only two elements. For example, "carbon dioxide." an alert that is consisted of of just two elements, carbon and also oxygen.

The exemption is if you hear "___ide ion" That means it"s a negative ion of part element. Because that example, chlorine the has acquired an electron to become an ion is called a chloride ion and not a chlorine ion. Positive ions don"t use the "ide" ending.

NaCl, CaO, CaCl2, N2O, CO2, KBr, P5O10

Sodium chloride, calcium oxide, calcium chloride, dinitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, potassium bromide, and pentaphosphorus decaoxide.

Even if friend don"t know the surname of the compound on the left, friend now know they all end in "ide" because each room a combination of 2 elements. There can be an ext than 2 atoms, yet only two elements. The only two exceptions I have the right to think the is "hydroxide" and "cyanide" compounds, such as salt hydroxide (NaOH) and sodium cyanide (NaCN) . Notification that these have 3 elements. Again, "ide" usually way there"s simply two elements combined.

I"ll show you how an important this little syllable is.

Let"s speak you and a friend overhear a conversation. Later the FBI interview both of you speak the civilization you heard to be suspected terrorists. The FBI think they room shipping a attention chemical.

You did hear part chemical names gift mentioned. Her friend states he heard "sodium" followed by a word the sounded prefer "chlorine". You likewise heard "sodium" however don"t mental "chlorine" being said, however you space absolutely sure you heard "ide" at the finish of the second word"s name.


If words "sodium" is heard by itself, then they room most likely talking around sodium metal. This is an extremely dangerous. In call with water, it will explode.

The indigenous "chlorine" by itself is refering to toxicity chlorine gas. In human being War I, chlorine gas to be released come kill opponent soldiers.

So the words, "sodium, chlorine" can easily median that the terrorists have both salt metal and chlorine gas. These space potent and also deadly chemicals.


However, because you heard "ide", this transforms the whole meaning. Instead of "sodium, chlorine," the words must have actually been "sodium chloride," i beg your pardon is table salt. Psychic the "ide" way this is a link made from 2 elements, in this situation sodium and chlorine. Individually sodium and also chlorine are an extremely reactive and also dangerous; however, once they combine, they room safe and good on french fries. Therefore cancel the terror alert.

If you have actually high blood pressure, the doctor is apt to tell friend to mitigate your entry of salt chloride (table salt) and also instead use potassium chloride.

One of these bottles contain just what you should prevent a love attack; unfortunately, instead of the compound being created out together "potassium chloride," the is written as a formula. Both of these elements have potassium and chlorine atoms. Again, "ide" is the clue that the correct bottle is the left one since it has just 2 elements. The best bottle has 3 elements. It"s surname is potassium chlorate. If you were to cook with this kind of salt, her food would likely explode. So you see, there"s a huge difference between ending through "ide" or v "ate".


Learning a language means paying attention to patterns. Let"s say listed below is what you watch written:

NaCl, KBr, CaF2

You identify the elements as sodium, chlorine, potassium, bromine, calcium, and also fluorine. Now you listen someone check out the compounds outloud as, "sodium chloride, potassium bromide, calcium fluoride." You watch a pattern. The first element is check out as is, the 2nd element"s name is shortened and the suffix "ide" is added.

Here"s a list of the facet names: lithium, chlorine, magnesium, oxygen, sodium, fluorine, calcium, and chlorine. Try specify name the compounds come the left.

To view the answer, role cursor end the image.

When discovering a language, you often encounter points that seem inconsistent. Notification the discrepancy in between how these compounds suggest the variety of atoms. Some compounds do and also some don"t. Can you check out a pattern here? (roll cursor over photo for answer)

All elements over the yellow stair-step line space non-metals. Whenever any kind of two combine, we need to show how many of each are present. The factor for this is the there"s frequently several possibilities. For example, nitrogen and also oxygen incorporate with each other in miscellaneous numbers, so us can"t just say "nitrogen oxide" due to the fact that that wouldn"t determine the various compounds.
NO, N2O, NO2, N2O3

Notice that these 4 compounds the nitrogen space called: nitrogen oxide, dinitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and also dinitrogen trioxide.

At this point, you would certainly conclude that "di" means two and "tri" means three.

When you learn a language, among the first things you find out is exactly how to count. In chemistry, we usage Greek to count.

1= mono (mono isn"t supplied much. 1 is understood) 2 = di 3 = tri 4 = tetra 5 = penta 6 = hexa 7 = hepta 8 = octa 9 = nona 10 = deca


These seven non-metals usually type toxic compounds. Therefore if you ever before hear these talked or check out them written, take notice.

Most finish with the syllable "ide" and they use the Greek prefix to show the number of atoms. Because that example, the critical one says, "phosphorus trichloride". Ammonia could be called "nitrogen trihydride" yet the ammonia is so well known, that no one claims the full name.

Cl2O7 dichlorine heptaoxide (heptoxide)

N2O4 dinitrogen tetraoxide (tetroxide)

PI3 phosphorus triiodide

We now have actually some nomenclature rules about naming link that space made that two various non-metals. 1. The very first element is composed as. If more than one atom of that element, use the Greek prefix for the number.

2. The surname of second element is shortened and the suffix "ide" is added. If an ext than one atom that the second element, then use the Greek prefix for the number.

Here I"m talk chemistry come a pair of textbooks authors. If i hear Greek_something_Greek_something_ide, I recognize they are talking about a non-metal compound of two elements even if ns didn"t record the element names.

When reading chemistry, you see and also hear Greek words because that counting the facets in non-metal compounds, yet when mentioning compounds made from a metal and also a non-metal, friend see Roman Numerals but hear Arabic numerals. It nearly makes you desire to usage your sword on someone.

Written: iron(II) chloride Spoken: steel two chloride

Written: cobalt(III) oxide Spoken: cobalt three oxide

Notice the the Roman numeral (III) is talked as if it to be the Arabic character "3". Us say "three" no "I, I, I", which would make human being think friend stutter.

CrO2 Spoken: "chromium 4 oxide" written out: Chromium (IV) oxide


Another puzzler: You check out the formula CrO2, but are puzzled since someone calls it "chromium 4 oxide". To you it looks prefer there"s two oxygens not four. The reason for this is that the "four" is introduce to the charge on the chromium no the variety of oxygen atoms.

Here"s a chart of what chromium and oxygen atom look favor individually. They start off neutral due to the fact that the electron (e-) lock have enhance the variety of protons (p+) castle have. due to the fact that each oxygen has actually a more powerful pull on electrons than does chromium, each will pull off 2 electrons indigenous the chromium. Chromium has four outer electrons and also these gain grabbed by the 2 oxygen atoms. Currently chromium has 4 much more protons than it walk electrons, so it is currently 4+ charge. The oxygens have obtained 2 electrons each, therefore they are now 2- charge. Since these facets now have actually opposite charges, castle stick together to make chromium (IV) oxide.

Copper(II) chloride > CuCl2

Calcium chloride > CaCl2

Sodium chloride > NaCl

Two an ext puzzlers: 1) occasionally you hear roman numerals used and also sometimes not. 2) Why walk they write 2 chlorines for calcium chloride (CaCl2), but only one chlorine for sodium chloride (NaCl)?

No must say more than what"s needed: girlfriend wouldn"t try to use hand signal to tell your friends right here that there"s a Shark-with-a-lot-of-sharp-teeth best behind them. Giving them the signal because that "shark" is all you need.

Chemists are like scuba divers. There"s no need to say much more than what"s necessary. When a group shares a particular amount the knowledge, communication can be shortened because of this shared knowledge.

Chloride ion = Cl-

Sodium ion = Na+ and also attracts one Cl-

Calcium ion = Ca2+ and also attracts 2 Cl-

NaCl (no should say one chlorine due to the fact that sodium have the right to only entice one)

CaCl2 (no need to say two chlorines, in other words, you would certainly not to speak calcium dichloride since it"s unnecesary once you know that calcium has 2+ charge. The 2+ charge would always attract 2 chloride ion which have actually a an adverse one charge each).

Chemistry nomenclature have the right to be puzzling if us don"t have the expertise that chemistry share. What they know is the charge on elements.

Chlorine is a negative one charge, for this reason it"s attractive to the positive metal ions choose sodium and also calcium. As soon as a sodium atom i do not care a fee ion, it constantly becomes 1+ charge. Calcium constantly becomes a 2+ (two plus) charge.

Copper ion = Cu+ or Cu2+

copper (I) chloride method Cu+ so attracts one Cl- (CuCl)

copper (II) chloride method Cu+ therefore attracts 2 Cl- (CuCl2)

Unlike copper and sodium, a copper ion have the right to be one of two people 1+ fee or a 2+ charge. So simply saying copper chloride doesn"t tell girlfriend how many chloride ions room attached to the copper. However, if you show the charge on the copper, then others can figure out how numerous chlorine atoms space connected.
This is the periodic Table whereby the center is left the end so we can focus on both ends. Notice that elements in the very first column will achieve a +1 charge (also composed 1+) if they lose their outer solitary electron. Sodium (Na) mentioned above is in this column. The second column are steels that obtain a plus 2 charge as soon as they lose their two external electrons. Calcium mentioned over is in this column. Non-metals space on the right side and also they come to be negatively charged together they take it electrons away from the metals. An alert chlorine has a an unfavorable one charge.


Do not speak magnesium dichloride saying magnesium chloride is enough

It"s the knowledge of the charges that increases communication. For example, a human does not need to say "magnesium dichloride" due to the fact that magnesium is in the plus 2 fee column, and also since chlorine is a negative 1 charge, over there will always be two chloride ion attached to a magnesium ion.

Here"s the motto: "Don"t phone call me miscellaneous I already know."

It"s choose saying "yellow bananas", "wet water", or "4 legged horse." Don"t usage these extra words the are currently common knowledge.

On the various other hand, don"t leave out words that space needed.

The main ingredient of glass is silicon dioxide (SiO2). Occasionally aluminum oxide (Al2O3) is added to make the glass an ext resistant to chemicals.

Why didn"t we say dialuminum trioxide because that (Al2O3)? One reason is the we have actually a metal combined with a non-metal, so we don"t use Greek prefixes to counting the atoms.

How carry out we know aluminum oxide has two aluminum atoms and three oxygen atoms?


We describe this routine Table that lists the charges that these aspects can have. Aluminum is in the +3 column definition it loser 3 electron to end up being +3 charge. Oxygen is in the -2 column and can have a -2 charge. Having opposite charges, the two are attracted to each other. However, after ~ they room together, castle still have an all at once +1 charge.

(Al3+O2-)+ That means as a pair, they will attract another an adverse oxygen atom. (Al3+O2-)+ ← O2- This resulting threesome now has actually a an adverse one charge (3+ & 4-=1-), for this reason they will now attract a hopeful aluminum ion. (O2-Al3+O2-)- ← Al3+ This outcomes in a team that has a add to 2 charge (Al3+O2-Al3+O2-)2+ Being hopeful they now lure a O2-. (Al3+O2-Al3+O2-)2+ ← O2- currently all with each other there is no charge, for this reason the compound attracts naught else and we finish with the last compound & formula. (O2-Al3+O2-Al3+O2-) which is Al2O3. Also, aluminum never has actually other charges, for this reason we have the right to depend on it having actually a +3 charge, so we don"t write: aluminum(III) oxide, we just write aluminum oxide.

A compound that comes together just like aluminum oxide is iron(III) oxide (rust). An alert for the iron compound, I wrote "(III)". That"s due to the fact that iron have the right to have one of two people a plus 2 fee or a to add 3 charge. For this reason I had to specify which one. It"s formula is prefer aluminum oxide (Al2O3); it"s Fe2O3. Two iron atoms with plus 3 fee each balances with 3 oxygen atoms with negative 2 fee each just like the aluminum and also oxygen atom did.

Learning the language of chemistry take away time. Like any kind of language, the more you are discover the quicker it is to learn more. Also, knowledge the reasonable behind the naming rules helps. Even though over there is rather a little of memorization in nomenclature, remember, it"s not simply names that room important, it"s the chemical behind the name.

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The payoff with learning how to speak chemistry is the it lets you interact with so countless others approximately the human being that also have learned the language the chemistry.