Rules for Naming Ionic Compounds

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  • 0:00 What Are Ionic Compounds?
  • 1:12 Naming Ionic Compounds
  • 1:37 Binary Ionic Compounds
  • 3:00 Binary Ionic Compounds…
  • 4:38 Ionic Compounds With…
  • 5:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nissa Garcia

Nissa has a masters degree in chemistry and has taught high school science and college level chemistry.

How do we know what names to call different ionic compounds? In chemistry, there are different types of ionic compounds. In this lesson, we will go over these types and the rules we must follow to name them correctly.

What Are Ionic Compounds?

A compound forms when two or more atoms of different elements share, donate, or accept electrons. We are going to focus our attention on ionic compounds. We encounter many ionic compounds every day, like sodium chloride, which is table salt, and sodium fluoride, which is found in toothpaste.

Ionic compounds, just like the name suggests, are made of ions, which are charged particles formed when electrons are transferred between atoms of different elements. The ions that make up an ionic compound are a cation, which is a positive ion, and an anion, which is a negative ion.

For instance, sodium chloride is made of a cation (Na+) and an anion (Cl-). Another ionic compound, magnesium hydroxide, is made of a cation (Mg2+) and an anion (OH-). These examples are shown here:

Examples of ionic compounds: Sodium Chloride and Magnesium Hydroxide

How do we know that the ionic compound NaCl is called sodium chloride, and Mg(OH)2 is magnesium hydroxide? In this lesson, we will learn how to name ionic compounds.

Naming Ionic Compounds

In science, it is important to have a system that we can follow in naming things. For instance, in biology, there are rules that scientists follow in naming species. In chemistry, there are rules we must follow in naming ionic compounds. There are different types of ionic compounds, but the general rules in naming them are:

  • Identify and name the cation
  • Identify and name the anion

Binary Ionic Compounds

When we think of the word 'binary,' we think of the prefix 'bi-,' which means 'two.' Binary ionic compounds, just like the name suggests, only have two atoms from different elements; one atom is a metal, and the other atom is a nonmetal. How do we know which element is a metal and which is a nonmetal? We can tell this from its position in the periodic table. The elements at the left side of the stairs outlined in black are metals, and those on the right side of the stairs are nonmetals.

Metals and Nonmetals in the Periodic Table

Some examples of binary ionic compounds are shown here:

Examples of Binary Ionic Compounds

How do we name binary ionic compounds? We follow the same general rules we just mentioned:

  • Identify and name the cation; the cation is the metal.
  • Identify and name the anion, and change the suffix to -ide; the anion is the nonmetal.

Let's use aluminum fluoride as an example. The cation is aluminum. The anion is the nonmetal, so, for aluminum fluoride, the anion is fluorine, so we change the suffix of that to -ide. Then it becomes fluoride. Here are other examples of binary ionic compounds and their names:

Naming Binary Ionic Compound Examples

Binary Ionic Compounds & Transition Metals

We are still talking about binary ionic compounds, but instead of an ordinary metal, we are talking about transition metals. Transition metals are found in groups 3-12 in the periodic table.

Transition Metals In the Periodic Table

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