CIE IGCSE Chemistry

Revision Notes

14.1.1. Names of Compounds

Organic Compound Names, Structures & Types


  • Organic Chemistry is the scientific study of the structure, properties, and reactions of organic compounds. Organic compounds are those which contain carbon
  • For conventional reasons metal carbonates, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are not included in organic compounds

Definition of a hydrocarbon

  • A compound that contains only hydrogen and carbon atoms

Different types of formulae in organic chemistry table, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes


Combustion of hydrocarbons

  • These compounds undergo complete and incomplete combustion
  • Complete combustion occurs when there is excess oxygen so water and carbon dioxide form e.g:
CH4+ 2O2→CO2+ 2H2O
  • Incomplete combustion occurs when there is insufficient oxygen to burn so either carbon monoxide and water or carbon and water form e.g:
2CH4+ 3O2→ 2CO + 4H2O
CH4+ O2→ C + 2H2O

Names of compounds

  • The names of organic compounds have two parts: the prefix or stem and the end part (or suffix)
  • The prefix tells you how many carbon atoms are present in the longest continuous chain in the compound
  • The suffix tells you what functional group is on the compound

Names of compounds table, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes



Names of Compounds_b table, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes


Further rules for naming compounds

  • When there is more than one carbon atom where a functional group can be located it is important to distinguish exactly which carbon the functional group is on
  • Each carbon is numbered and these numbers are used to describe where the functional group is
  • When 2 functional groups are present di- is used as a prefix to the second part of the name
  • Branching also needs to be considered, the carbon atoms with the branches are described by their number
  • When the location of functional groups and branches needs to be described the functional group takes precedence so the functional group has the lowest number

 Examples of branched molecules

Examples-branched-molecules table, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

Exam Tip

For defining a hydrocarbon, you must specify that they are compounds which contain hydrogen and carbon atoms only, no other element is present.

You may not be asked to name branched chain organic compounds but you will come across them. It is useful to know that the numbers in the names of these compounds refer to the position of the side chains with respect to the main chain.

Extended Only

Structures & Formulae


Alkane structures table, downloadable AS & A Level Chemistry revision notes



Alkenes table, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes



Alcohols table, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes


Carboxylic acids

Carboxylic acids table, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes


EstersEster structures Table, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

Author: Morgan

Morgan’s passion for the Periodic Table begun on his 10th birthday when he received his first Chemistry set. After studying the subject at university he went on to become a fully fledged Chemistry teacher, and now works in an international school in Madrid! In his spare time he helps create our fantastic resources to help you ace your exams.

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