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Nomenclature of Amides

Amides play a crucial role in organic chemistry, serving as a functional group that appears in various compounds. Understanding their nomenclature is essential for accurate scientific communication. This blog post provides a concise overview of the naming amides, ensuring clarity and consistency in the naming process.

Accurate naming of amides involves identifying the parent compound and substituents attached to the amide group.

Noting the correct order of these components is vital to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation. By following established naming rules, chemists can effectively communicate the structure and properties of amide-containing compounds.

Rules for Naming Amides and Amines

Differentiating between amides and amines

Amides and amines are two types of compounds that contain nitrogen atoms. The main difference lies in their functional groups.

Amides have a carbonyl group (C=O) bonded to a nitrogen atom (N), while amines have one or more alkyl or aryl groups attached to the nitrogen atom.

Explanation of the IUPAC rules for naming amides and amines

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has provided specific guidelines. Let’s take a look at the rules:

  1. Naming amides:

  • Identify the parent carboxylic acid by removing the “-ic acid” ending and replacing it with “-amide.”

  • If there are substituents attached to the nitrogen atom, use prefixes such as N- or N,N-di- before the parent name.

  • Number any substituents on the carbon chain and indicate their position using numbers.

  1. Naming amines:

  • For primary amines, simply use the alkyl or aryl group name followed by “amine.”

  • Secondary and tertiary amines are named by listing all alkyl or aryl groups bonded to nitrogen alphabetically before adding “amine.”

Why we should think about substituents when naming compounds.

When naming amides and amines, it is crucial to consider any substituents present in the compounds. Substituents can significantly affect their properties and reactivity. By including them in the compound’s name, we can accurately describe its structure.

For example, penicillin is an antibiotic that contains an amide bond. Its full name is 6-aminopenicillanic acid because it has an amino group (-NH2) attached to the amide nitrogen and a carboxylic acid group (-COOH) on the carbon chain.

Systematic Nomenclature of Amides

In the systematic nomenclature system for amides, there are specific rules to follow when naming these compounds. Let’s dive into the details and understand how to name amides using this systematic approach.

Identifying the Parent Chain and Naming Substituents

To name an amide using the systematic nomenclature system, you first need to identify the parent chain, which is usually the longest carbon chain that contains the carbonyl group (C=O).

The parent chain is named based on the number of carbon atoms it contains, with prefixes like “meth-” for one carbon atom, “eth-” for two carbon atoms, and so on.

Next, you’ll name any substituents attached to the parent chain. Substituents are groups or atoms that replace a hydrogen atom in a molecule. These can include alkyl groups (such as methyl or ethyl) or functional groups (such as hydroxyl or amino).

Applying Systematic Nomenclature to Different Types of Amides

Let’s look at some examples to better understand how to apply systematic nomenclature to different types of amides:

  1. Formamide: In this case, the parent chain is a single carbon atom (meth-) bonded to an oxygen atom (=O) and a nitrogen atom (-NH2). Therefore, it is named as “methanamide.”

  2. N, N-Dimethylacetamide: Here, we have a parent chain consisting of three carbon atoms (prop-) bonded to an oxygen atom (=O) and an amino group (-NH-).

    There are two methyl substituents (-CH3) attached to one of the carbon atoms in the parent chain. Hence, it is named as “N, N-dimethylacetamide.”

By following these rules and applying them consistently, you can accurately name various types of amides using the systematic nomenclature system.

Different types of amides and their characteristics.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Amides

Amides can be classified into three main categories based on the substitution patterns: primary, secondary, and tertiary amides.

In a primary amide, the nitrogen atom is bonded to one alkyl or aryl group and two hydrogen atoms.

Secondary amides have two alkyl or aryl groups attached to the nitrogen atom along with one hydrogen atom.

Tertiary amides, on the other hand, contain three alkyl or aryl groups connected to the nitrogen atom.


Impact of Structural Differences on Physical Properties

The structural differences among these different classifications of amides greatly influence their physical properties.

For instance, primary amides tend to have higher boiling points compared to secondary and tertiary amides due to stronger intermolecular hydrogen bonding between the polar carbonyl group (-C=O) and hydrogen atoms attached to nitrogen.

As we move from primary to tertiary amides, there is a decrease in reactivity towards nucleophilic substitution reactions.

Examples Showcasing Different Classifications

Let’s take a closer look at some examples that highlight the unique characteristics of each classification:

  • Primary Amide: Acetamide (CH3CONH2) – It is a colorless solid that can form strong intermolecular hydrogen bonds in solution.

  • Secondary Amide: N-Methylacetamide (CH3CONHCH3) – This compound has a higher boiling point than acetamide due to increased molecular weight.

  • Tertiary Amide: N, N-Dimethylacetamide (CH3CON(CH3)2) – It exhibits even lower reactivity towards nucleophilic substitution reactions compared to primary and secondary amides.

Understanding the classification of amides based on their substitution patterns provides valuable insights into their chemical properties and behavior under different conditions.

By examining specific examples within each category, we can observe how these structural differences impact their physical and chemical properties.

Naming Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Amides


Secondary, and tertiary amides, there are specific guidelines to follow. Let’s dive in and explore the process step by step.

Naming Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Amide Compounds

  1. Start by identifying the parent compound: the longest carbon chain that contains the amide group.

  2. Assign a prefix to indicate the substituents attached to the nitrogen atom in the amide group.

  3. Use numerical prefixes (di-, tri-) if there are multiple identical substituents.

  4. Prioritize substituents based on their alphabetical order when assigning names.

  5. If there is a tie in alphabetical order, prioritize based on their position in the name of the parent compound.

Naming Process for Primary Amides

  1. Identify the parent compound as an alkane with an -amide suffix.

  2. Number the carbon chain starting from the end closest to the nitrogen atom.

  3. Use numerical prefixes for multiple identical substituents.

Example: CH₃CONH₂ is named ethanamide.

Naming Process for Secondary Amides

  1. Identify the parent compound as an alkane with an -amide suffix.

  2. Number the carbon chain starting from one end of the amide group.

  3. Use numerical prefixes for multiple identical substituents.

Example: CH₃CH(NH₂)COCH₃ is named N-methylpropanamide.

Naming Process for Tertiary Amides

  1. Identify each branch attached to nitrogen separately using alphabetical order.

  2. Name each branch as a separate word before adding “-amide” at the end.

Example: (CH₃)₂NCOCH₃ is named N,N-dimethylacetamide.

Naming Cyclic Amides and Amides with Functional Groups

There are specific guidelines to follow. It’s important to use appropriate prefixes or suffixes that indicate the presence of a cyclic structure. When dealing with amides that have functional groups attached, maintaining the priority order becomes crucial.

Guidelines for Naming Cyclic Amide Compounds

To name cyclic amide compounds, you need to follow these guidelines:

  1. Identify the parent hydride diazane.

  2. Determine the substituents attached to the diazane ring.

  3. Number the carbon atoms in the diazane ring starting from one of its nitrogen atoms.

  4. Indicate the bonding position of each substituent using numbers.

  5. Use appropriate prefixes or suffixes based on whether it is a cyclic primary, secondary, or tertiary amide.

Incorporating Functional Groups into Names

When dealing with amides that have functional groups attached, you need to maintain priority order while naming them. Here’s how:

  1. Identify the main chain containing both the functional group and the acyl group (R-C=O).

  2. Assign a prefix indicating the substituent attached to the main chain.

  3. Include any other functional groups using appropriate prefixes or suffixes.

Examples of Correct Nomenclature

Let’s look at some examples showcasing correct nomenclature for various cyclic amide structures:

  1. 2-Methylcyclohexanecarboxamide: This compound contains a methyl group (substituent) attached to a cyclohexane ring (parent hydride diazane), along with an acyl group (carboxamide).

  2. N-Ethyl-3-pyrrolidone: In this case, we have an ethyl group (substituent) attached to a pyrrolidone ring (parent hydride diazane), which contains a carbonyl group (acyl group).

By following these guidelines and understanding how to incorporate functional groups into the names of amides, you can accurately represent their structures and properties.


What are some common examples of primary amides?

Primary amides are organic compounds where the nitrogen atom is directly bonded to a carbon atom. Some common examples include formamide (HCONH2), acetamide (CH3CONH2), and propionamide (CH3CH2CONH2).

How do I differentiate between primary, secondary, and tertiary amides?

The differentiation between primary, secondary, and tertiary amides is based on the number of carbon atoms bonded directly to the nitrogen atom. In a primary amide, there is one carbon atom bonded to nitrogen; in a secondary amide, two carbon atoms are bonded; whereas in a tertiary amide, three carbon atoms are bonded.

Can you provide an example of a cyclic amide?

One example of a cyclic amide is caprolactam (C6H11NO), which consists of a ring structure containing both carbon and nitrogen atoms.

What are the key functional groups found in amides?

Amides contain the amide functional group, which consists of a carbonyl group (C=O) bonded to a nitrogen atom (N). Other functional groups that can be present alongside amides include alkyl groups, aryl groups, and various substituents.

Are there any exceptions or special cases in amide nomenclature?

Yes, there can be some exceptions or special cases in amide nomenclature depending on the specific compounds involved. It is important to consult reliable sources and follow established naming conventions to accurately name these compounds.