12.4 Classification Of Organic Compounds

The existing large number of organic compounds and their ever-increasing numbers has made it necessary to classify them on the basis of their structures. Organic compounds are broadly classified as follows:

1 Acyclic or open chain compounds

These compounds are also called as aliphatic compounds and consist of straight or branched chain compounds, for example:


2 Cyclic or closed chain or ring compounds

(a) Alicyclic compounds

Alicyclic (aliphatic cyclic) compounds contain carbon atoms joined in the form of a ring (homocyclic).

Sometimes atoms other than carbon are also present in the ring (heterocylic). Tetrahydrofuran given below is an example of this type of compound:

These exhibit some of the properties similar to those of aliphatic compounds.


(b) Aromatic compounds

Aromatic compounds are special types of compounds. You will learn about these compounds in detail in Unit 13. These include benzene and other related ring compounds (benzenoid).

Like alicyclic compounds, aromatic comounds may also have hetero atom in the ring. Such compounds are called hetrocyclic aromatic compounds. Some of the examples of various types of aromatic compounds are:

Organic compounds can also be classified on the basis of functional groups, into families or homologous series.


12.4.1 Functional Group

The functional group is an atom or a group of atoms joined to the carbon chain which is responsible for the characteristic chemical properties of the organic compounds. The examples are hydroxyl group (–OH), aldehyde group (–CHO) and carboxylic acid group (–COOH) etc.


12.4.2 Homologous Series

A group or a series of organic compounds each containing a characteristic functional group forms a homologous series and the members of the series are called homologues.

The members of a homologous series can be represented by general molecular formula and the successive members differ from each other in molecular formula by a –CH2 unit. There are a number of homologous series of organic compounds.

Some of these are alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, haloalkanes, alkanols, alkanals, alkanones, alkanoic acids, amines etc. It is also possible that a compound contains two or more identical or different functional groups. This gives rise to polyfunctional compounds.

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