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Monoprotic Acid: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is a Monoprotic Acid?
  • 1:24 Equivalence Points
  • 3:01 Examples of Monoprotic Acids
  • 4:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Reid

Danielle has taught middle school science and has a doctorate degree in Environmental Health

Monoprotic acids are considered to be part of the Bronsted Lowry family of acids. In this lesson, explore the role of monoprotic acids in acid base reactions, and learn how to identify them in various examples.

What Is a Monoprotic Acid?

The year was 1923. Johannes Nicolaus Bronsted and Thomas Martin Lowry were chemists working hard in the laboratory trying to provide explanations to the shortcomings regarding the Arrhenius theory. The light bulb went off and a chemical idea was generated, forever changing the landscape of acids and base chemistry. These men developed a theory called Bronsted Lowry. What in the world does this have to do with monoprotic acids? Well, these acids behave according to this theory.

The Bronsted Lowry theory states that acids will be proton donors while bases will be proton acceptors. Thus, a monoprotic acid is an acid that can be classified as a proton donor. However, there is one caveat to this definition. A monoprotic acid can only donate one acidic proton. This should make perfect sense given that the prefix mono in monoprotic acid means 'one.'

Monoprotic acids may be encountered during a chemical technique called a titration. A titration is a process in which you take a solution with a known concentration and use that to determine the solution with an unknown concentration Look at the relationship between monoprotic acids and this technique.

A solution with a known concentration is added to the solution with the unknown concentration.

Equivalence Points

Titrations, as seen in the diagram, provide a great method towards identifying monoprotic acids. The equivalence point in a titration is what clues you in to whether or not the given substance is monoprotic. An equivalence point is a stoichiometric value where the point in a titration corresponds to equal (or equivalent) amounts of acid and base being added. Don't be alarmed by the term stoichiometric. This simply means that the amount of the two solutions used in the titration are identical.

By graphing a titration curve, the equivalence point can be identified. A monoprotic acid will only have one equivalence point. Now, why is this so? Well, keep in mind that a monoprotic acid can only donate one acidic proton. Look at this diagram as an example.

In this titration, a solution of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is added to a solution of hydrogen chloride (HCl). At the equivalence point, the acidic proton, the hydrogen attached to chlorine, in hydrogen chloride reacts at an equivalent amount with the hydroxide ion from the sodium hydroxide. There will be no net acidic protons or hydroxide ions left over. Because hydrogen chloride only has one acidic proton to donate, it is considered monoprotic. Recall that the number of equivalence points in a titration curve corresponds to the number of protons an acid can donate.

Given this concept, as well as the fact that hydrogen chloride can only donate one acidic proton, it makes perfect sense that this titration curve is monoprotic.

Examples of Monoprotic Acids

This table provides a list of some monoprotic acids:

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