Naming Amines Using IUPAC Nomenclature

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  • 0:04 What Are Amines?
  • 0:59 Alkane Nomenclature
  • 1:41 Naming Amines
  • 3:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

This lesson will help you understand how to use IUPAC nomenclature to name amines. We'll first look at the functions of amines, review alkane nomenclature, and then discuss how to name primary, secondary, and tertiary amines.

What Are Amines?

What kind of activities make you feel happy? You might enjoy an afternoon on the basketball court, a night out on a romantic date with your significant other, or a simple order of delicious chocolate cake. Why do these things make us happy? The reason is because of a neurotransmitter called dopamine that our brain uses to let us know something feels good. Dopamine, and other molecules in our body such as histamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine are all examples of amines. Amines are organic molecules that include a nitrogen atom. Amines show up in our bodies as neurotransmitters, in plants as alkaloids, in our DNA, and in manufacturing processes.

There are three main types of amines: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary amines are amines that have one alkyl group attached and two hydrogen atoms. Secondary amines have two alkyl groups attached. Finally, tertiary amines are attached to three alkyl groups.

Alkane Nomenclature

Today, we're going to be looking at the naming rules for each of these types of amines, laid out by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). However, amines are usually named based on the alkyl, or carbon group, that they are attached to. So let's first review the alkane nomenclature using the table appearing here.

Number of Carbons Name
1 Methane
2 Ethane
3 Propane
4 Butane
5 Pentane
6 Hexane
7 Heptane
8 Octane
9 Nonane
10 Decane

As you can see, we start with methane, ethane, propane, and butane, chemicals whose names you're probably more familiar with. They each have one, two, three, and four carbon atoms respectively. With the next six alkanes, their prefixes are simply the Latinized version of the number of carbons. pentane for five carbons, hexane for six carbons, and so on.

Naming Amines

As we covered earlier, there are three types of amines that we'll be looking at here: primary, secondary, and tertiary amines. We'll look at them one at a time.

Primary amines are named by adding the suffix 'amine' to the alkyl name. The number in front denotes what carbon the amine group is attached to. Let's look at an example.

How to name a primary amine

Start by counting the carbons. Since there are six carbons, the alkane name is hexane. Now we can change the ending to fit the amine substituent group. The IUPAC name for this compound is 1-hexanamine. Since the amino group is attached to the first carbon, the number 1 is used in the prefix.

For secondary and tertiary amines, there will be additional alkyl groups attached to the nitrogen. These are listed in alphabetical order with other substituents from the alkyl chain. Numbers denote side chains from the alkyl group, where as the prefix 'N' denotes a substituent from the nitrogen atom. Let's look at an example here.

An example of a secondary amine
secondary amine

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