Functional group

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A functional group is any one of a number of specific combinations of molecules within an atom. Used mainly in organic chemistry, functional groups are a helpful way to determine the structure and function of a molecule, as functional groups act very similar no matter what molecule they are a part of.[1]

A generic functional group is represented by the letter R in a chemical formula. For instance, CR4 represents a carbon with four of the same functional group bonded to it.

Some functional groups are described in the following table:[1]

Name Description Ending Simple Example
Alkane Carbon-carbon single bond -ane Ethane (CH3CH3)
Alkene Carbon-carbon double bond -ene Ethene (CH2CH2)
Alkyne Carbon-carbon triple bond -yne Ethyne (CHCH)
Arene Unsaturated six-carbon ring none Benzene (C6H6)
Halide covalantly bonded F, Cl, Br or I none Chloroethane (ClCH2CH3)
Alcohol Covalantly bonded -OH -ol Ethanol (CH3CH2OH)
Ketone Double bonded O -one Methyl ethyl ketone (CH3(CO)C2H5)
Aldehyde Double bonded O attached to a carbon attached to a hydrogen -al Acetaldehyde (C2H4O)
Ether Oxygen bonded to two other carbons ether Diethyl ether (CH3CH2OCH2CH3
Ester Oxygen double bonded to a carbon which is also bonded to another oxygen ester Diethyl ester (CH3CH2OOCHCH3
Amine -NR2 -amine Ethylamine (CH3CH2NH2)
Amide Double bonded O attached to a carbon attached to a nitrogen -amide Ethanamide (CH3CONH2)
Carboxylic acid Carbon double bonded to O and bonded to -OH -oic acid Ethanoic acid (CH3COOH)
Carbonyl[2] Carbon double bonded to Oxygen, C=O - Forms part of many larger functional groups


  1. 1.0 1.1 McMurry, John. Organic Chemistry, 6e. Brooks/Cole: 2004.
  2. The Carbonyl Group