Identifying Multiple Functional Groups

Dr K detective

Are you expected to determine the number of functional groups present in a complex compound? Or perhaps you need to identify the functional groups that are present in a given compound? I have a few tips to share:

  • look for anything that is not C-C single bond in a systematic manner (ie. scan from top to bottom, or left to right)
  • exclude alkane (unless specified otherwise by your instructor)
  • when you see carbonyl group (C=O) right next to O, group it together as an ester. DON’T split them into 2 groups (ketone & ether)
  • when you see carbonyl group (C=O) right next to N, group it together as an amide. DON’T split them into 2 groups (ketone & amine)
  • avoid duplicates of the same group (ie circle and label only 1 OH group even though there are 3 OH groups in the compound)

If you need to revisit functional groups before attempting to identify multiple functional groups in a compound, do check out my previous post on Introducing the 13 Functional Groups!

Watch the video on how I identified the functional groups present in 3 organic compounds – aspirin, capsaicin and PiCC.


Ready to test your skills? Each practice is centered on 1 organic compound. Give it a shot to see where you stand.

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