Chemistry » Organic Chemistry » Hydrocarbons

Summarizing Hydrocarbons

Key Concepts and Summary

Strong, stable bonds between carbon atoms produce complex molecules containing chains, branches, and rings. The chemistry of these compounds is called organic chemistry. Hydrocarbons are organic compounds composed of only carbon and hydrogen. The alkanes are saturated hydrocarbons—that is, hydrocarbons that contain only single bonds. Alkenes contain one or more carbon-carbon double bonds. Alkynes contain one or more carbon-carbon triple bonds. Aromatic hydrocarbons contain ring structures with delocalized π electron systems.


addition reaction

reaction in which a double carbon-carbon bond forms a single carbon-carbon bond by the addition of a reactant. Typical reaction for an alkene.


molecule consisting of only carbon and hydrogen atoms connected by single (σ) bonds


molecule consisting of carbon and hydrogen containing at least one carbon-carbon double bond

alkyl group

substituent, consisting of an alkane missing one hydrogen atom, attached to a larger structure


molecule consisting of carbon and hydrogen containing at least one carbon-carbon triple bond

aromatic hydrocarbon

cyclic molecule consisting of carbon and hydrogen with delocalized alternating carbon-carbon single and double bonds, resulting in enhanced stability

functional group

part of an organic molecule that imparts a specific chemical reactivity to the molecule

organic compound

natural or synthetic compound that contains carbon

saturated hydrocarbon

molecule containing carbon and hydrogen that has only single bonds between carbon atoms

skeletal structure

shorthand method of drawing organic molecules in which carbon atoms are represented by the ends of lines and bends in between lines, and hydrogen atoms attached to the carbon atoms are not shown (but are understood to be present by the context of the structure)


branch or functional group that replaces hydrogen atoms in a larger hydrocarbon chain

substitution reaction

reaction in which one atom replaces another in a molecule

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