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In order to do well in organic chemistry you must understand these basic concepts.

The first thing that you need to know is, how many bonds an element must have in order to be neutral. The elements that you are responsible for are as follows: CARBON (C): Always exists as having four bonds. An example of this is methane (see below). Notice that carbon has four bonds.

HYDROGEN (H): Always exists as having one bond. An example of this is water (see below). Notice that each hydrogen has one bond.

OXYGEN (O): Always exists as having two bonds and two lone pairs of electrons. An example of this can also be seen in water below. Notice that oxygen has two bonds and two lone pairs of electrons.

NITROGEN (N): Always exists as having three bonds and one lone pair of electrons. An example of this can be seen in ammonia below:

HALOGENS (Br, Cl, F, I): Always exist as having one bond and three lone pairs of electrons. An example of this can be seen in hydrochloric acid (below).

BORON (B): Always exists as having three bonds and no lone pairs of electrons. See the example below:

THE BASICS OF ORGANIC CHEMISTRY *Please note that if an element is found in the same group(groups run from top to bottom) in the periodic table as any of the elements listed above that it will have the same number of bonds and lone electrons. For example: Phosphorous (P) is found in the same group as nitrogen so it also exists as having three bonds and one lone pair of electrons.

HOW TO CALCULATE FORMAL CHARGE The next thing that you need to know how to do is to be able to calculate the formal charge of an atom in a molecule. You may remember how to do this from your general chemistry class but let's review how to do it just in case. To begin, you should first have a copy of a periodic table in front of you. Notice that in the periodic table that all of the group numbers are listed across the top of the page. It is only the group numbers with the letters "a" next to them that we are concerned about. We will now begin by calculating the formal charge of nitrogen in the molecule below:

Step One: Look up nitrogen (N) in the periodic table. Notice that it is in group 5(ignore the letter a). Step Two: Count the number of covalent bonds (the lines) that are attached to Nitrogen. Notice that there are 4 lines attached to the nitrogen (N). Step Three: Count the number of elctrons that are part of a lone pair (a lone pair looks like two dots). Notice that there are 0 electrons that are part of a lone pair on nitrogen. Step Five: Now apply the formula which is Group # - # of Covalent Bonds - # of lone electrons = Formal Charge 5 - 4 -0= 1 This means that the formal charge is 1 which means that nitrogen has a +1 charge. When you answer this type of question on an exam it should look like the structure below:

Let's try a practice problem! Practice Problem:Calculate the formal charge of the labeled oxygen in the molecule below.

Solution: Notice that oxygen is in group six on the periodic table and that it has three covalent bonds( seen by the three lines attached to it) and two lone electons.Therefore, using the formula, 6 -3 - 2 = 1, we know that the charge on the oxygen is +1.

Now let's apply the concept of formal charges to organic chemistry. Look at the molecule below and calculate the formal charge on the carbon.

You should see that carbon has a charge of +1. Notice that we placed a plus charge on the carbon. A molecule with a carbon with a +1 charge is called a carbocation. This term carbocation is very important throughout all semesters of organic chemistry. Therefore it is very important to memorize that a carbon with three bonds is called a "carbocation".

Now look at this molecule and calculate the formal charge on the carbon:

You should see that the carbon has a charge of -1. Notice that we placed the negative charge on the carbon in the molecule below. A molecule that contains a carbon with a -1 charge is called a carbanion. It is also very important to memorize this term.

SKELETAL STRUCTURES IN ORGANIC CHEMISTRY You are probably familiar with skeletal structures that are written like the molecule seen below.

However, organic chemists have a way of writing organic molecules in short hand called skelatal structures. It is up to the student to be able to convert these short hand structures into structures as seen above as well as determining the molecular formula(remember a molecular formula looks like this: C H .Let's look at an example of a skeletal structure below.

The first step in determining the molecular formula is by realizing that every bend and every end in the molecule is a carbon. So place a carbon in every position in the structure above.

Once you have done this you are now ready for the next step. If you remember correctly you will Remember that all carbons have four bonds. Therefore, you must go through each carbon and assume that each carbon has enough hydrogens attached to it in order to give it a total of four bonds. For example, if you look at the carbon on the left end of the structure you will notice that it has only one line attached to it. Therefore, in order to give that carbon an additional four bonds it must have three hydrogens attached to it. Try filling in the hydrogens for each additional carbon. When you are finished the structure should look like the one below.

Therefore the molecular formula of the molecule is C H . Let's try one more problem!! Practice Problem: Determine the structure and the molecular formula of the molecule below.

Solution:The correct translated structure is seen below.

The molecular formula is C H