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Functional groups are group of atoms with specific chemical properties that occur within organic molecules and sometimes denoted as “R”. Functional groups are found along the carbon backbone of macromolecules can form chains or rings of carbon atoms. Functional groups can “functionalize” a compound by enabling it to adopt different physical and chemical properties.

Types of common functional groups

The table below summarizes some of the major functional groups in organic chemistry. (The functional groups are highlighted in red)

Class of organic compounds Skeletal Structures of Compounds and functional groups (red) Name of Compounds
Alkene Figure1 1-hexene
Alkyne Figure2 2-butyne
Alkyl halide Figure3 Chloromethane
Alcohol Figure4 Methanol
Thiol Figure5 Ethanethiol
Ether Figure6 Diethyl ether (ethoxyethane)
Sulfide Figure7 Dimethyl sulfide (methylthiomethane)
Epoxide Figure8 Ethylene oxide (oxirane)

This text is adapted fromOpenstax, Chemistry 2e, Section 20: Organic Chemistry.

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