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An aldehyde is an organic compound containing a carbon to oxygen double bond (also known as the carbonyl group). The carbon atom must be attached to at least one hydrogen atom to be an aldehyde. A common aldehyde is formaldehyde (CH2O), which is a carbonyl group with a hydrogen atom on each side.

Common aldehydes

Common name Systematic name Formula
Formaldehyde Methanal HCHO
Acetaldehyde Ethanal CH3CHO
Propionaldehyde Propanal CH3CH2CHO
Butyraldehyde Butanal CH3CH2CH2CHO


Aldehydes differ from ketones. While both are similar, ketones require the carbonyl carbon atom to be bonded to two other carbon atoms.[1]


  1. Solomon's Organic Chemistry, Fifth Edition, 1992