Organic Chemistry Simplified: Part 1

Organic Chemistry is Simply Lines and Letters

In this first section of Organic Chemistry Simplified, I show you how to determine the number (and types) of bonds that can be formed to each atom. By starting this way, you will quickly see how easy OChem can really be!

There are only a few letters that you really need to know

In organic chemistry, there are only a few atoms (letters) you will need to remember. They are written below according to decreasing electronegativity:Professors try to make this easier to remember by telling you what these atoms (letters) sound like as a word:


OK – now that we have these in mind, let’s figure out how many bonds can be formed to each atom.

Use the Periodic table in your classroom to help

The periodic table is a great resource. It’s free and always there during your class…AND your exam. Let’s see how you can use it to your advantage.

We will start by looking at the group number to help.Group 8 atoms have a total of 8 electrons, which is written as 4 sets of 2 electron pairs. These electrons allow you to “do” organic chemistry – all the reactions you see in your class.As we move to the left of the periodic table, we remove one electron at time from each electron pair. We do not remove two electrons from the same electron pair.Each single electron represents a place where a bond can be formed to that atom.As you move to a lower group number, the number of bonds increases.

So – might be asking, “what about double and triple bonds?” Great question! Let’s see how to make them from what you know now.

Don’t forget about multiple bonds

The examples above only demonstrate single bond formation. If an atom can form at least two single bonds, it has the possibility to form multiple bonds:In Organic Chemistry Simplified Part 2, I discuss a simple way to view chemical bonds (lines). This approach will give you a great starting point to answer your reaction questions.

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