The roots of the terror : Organic Chemistry

This one is especially for the ones who have heard a lot ill about organic chemistry and for those who know nothing about organic chemistry but wish to do .

Trust me .Curiosity will not kill you

You will or might even have surely come across people telling you “organic is difficult ,its so freaking vast” . Even my professor once said “ If you have good memory, then organic chem will be a piece of cake for you. “

Guess what….. that’s not the case , and as I quote “Organic Chemistry is pretty easy and beautiful”.

You don’t need to take memory pills, that much I can assure you.

How do people who take memory pills remember to take memory pills?

To ensure excellence in organic chemistry one must have a crystal clear understanding of the basics (of course ,just like any other subject) .

But here the basics are easy,they never leave you throughout the topic.

We do not mean it this way.

The beauty of organic chemistry is that every answer is hidden in the basics. For those who suck at basics, memorise stuff. (not recommended,duh).

Trust me , I'm smart....well at least smarter than a duck

Trust me , I’m smart….well at least smarter than a duck

FIRST thing first. (Also the one which might have sprung up in some minds after reading the title).

Organic chemistry is the branch of chemistry which deals with carbon compounds and their properties.

Just carbon? You ask?.

Yes ,just him. So study of one element carbon is much more vast then the study of the rest taken together (Inorganic Chemistry) ?

Why so?
It is because carbon was blessed by the Almighty with a miraculous property of bonding. Catenation.
Catenation in simple words is just the ability to join hands with other fellow carbons very easily.

See? Chemistry is cute.

Due to which they form long long chains of carbons. Carbon also bonds with other elements easily because it has 4 electrons with him. So he can give away the 4 or take more 4. Enabling him to bond more strongly and with vivid members, It is because this we have to study this guy ‘carbon’ separately , and naming the study as

So what have we learned?

Carbon likes to bond with himself and other people.Giving us a gigantic number of compounds to study .

Good so we are learning stuff.!
Studying these compounds needs sorting first, so how do we go about it. We look for functional groups. So now what’s this thing?
Functional group is a particular part of any carbon compound which behaves in a particular and same way irrespective of the rest of the compound. That is to say , If Brad holds hands with Angelina , we call the pair Brangelina.

And if you know a functional group reacts in one molecule you can predict how it will react in almost all other molecules. !


Every carbon compound consist of some or the other functional group. Less the number of functional group , simpler the compond is to study.
What are the different functional groups?
Alkanes ( Holding one hand)
Alkenes (Holding two hands )
Alkynes ( Holding three hands……….just….okay? )
Haloalkane (-Cl, -F, -Br i.e Carbon holding hands with Halogen)
Alcohol ( -OH i.e carbon holding hands with hydroxyl )
Amine (-NH2 i.e carbon with nitrogen and hydrogen)
Aldehyde ( R-CHO )
Ketone (R-CO-R’ )
Carboxylic acids (R-COOH)
These are the most common functional groups. We may discuss them in detail further.
As far as Alkanes ,Alkenes and Alkynes are concerned they all are brothers to one another, All coming under the roof of HYDROCARBONS ( compounds containing only carbon and hydrogen)

Alkane , the youngest of ‘em all.

The hydrocarbon chains containing only single bonds belong to alkanes

(Just so you know if you cut a single hydrogen from alkane it becomes ‘alkyl’ also widely denoted as “R”)
Alkenes, Middle man.

The hydrocarbons containing double bonds.
Alkyne, The eldest.

As you can guess the hydrocarbon having triple bonds.
Haloalkane: As the name suggest… Alkane with a halogen.

Untitled-1If you were able to crack this there’s nothing more to understand what haloalkanes are. Yes , they are carbon compounds where one carbon is bonded to a halogen (ie Chlorine, Flourine, Bromine,Iodine)

Alcohol: Oh my favorite!

And I’m not even talking about these

When we take one hydrogen away from a carbon in a compound and give it a hydroxyl ,we get alcohol (yay).

Alcohols are pretty simple, a carbon attached to an oxygen which is further attached to a Hydrogen [-C-O-H].

They are used as solvnets throughout chemistry.

Common examples of alcohols are methyl alcohol(wood spirit), ethyl alcohol (the one you were thinking of).

The best thing about alcohols according to me is that they undergo oxidation. Why?

Alcohols readily oxidise to Aldehydes (will learn later) which then undergo Oxidation to get to Acids ( will learn little more later)

Aldehydes and Ketones :

They are brothers from a different mothers. In simple words, Aldehydes have an alkyl one one end and hydrogen on the other and oxygen in the middle.

Whereas ketones have two alkyl groups on both ends and oxygen in the middle.
Acids : The structure of an acid can be easily understood this way,

Take an aldehyde(R-CHO),

replace the hydrogen on the (C-O) side with a hydroxyl .

Voila!!! You have an Acid (R-COOH).

Just so you know , we aren’t talking about the drug.

These are bad-asses of the organic chemistry. From proteins in your body,to the butter in your fridge, all consists of some sort of carboxylic acid.

Its high reactivity earns him top priority amongst other functional groups.


Organic chemistry is much easier if you develop new techniques for yourself,

Since myself being a huge pokemon fan , this ones mine, I see Alcohols as Charmander (My favorite pokemon btw) , that makes Aldehydes as Charmeleon and finally the apex state alcohols can transform to , Charizard i.e Acids.

Oxidation here is the process of evolution. Pokemons in chemistry devolve too, That is called as Reduction which means Charizard on reduction becomes Charmeleon and so on to Charmander. Acids becomes Aldehydes which become Alcohols.
Sounds stupid? Well, I wanted it to be. More stupid ways you think of easier it becomes for you to remember. So whenever you want to remember something, remember it in a stupid way.

If you wish to learn in detail , check out the course Yale has made available for free here:

You might also want to check out the Crash Course playlist made by Hank Green

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– Ajinkya Gawali


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