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Roots, Prefixes and Ions

Most compounds are either ionic or covalent and consist of two parts (binary).

  • cation + anion
  • cation + polyatomic ion
  • polyatomic ion + anion
  • nonmetal + nonmetal

The general rule is to put the more metallic element first and the less metallic element second. The more metallic element uses its full name and less metallic element is named with its root and the suffix “-ide”.

more metallic name + less metallic root +  -ide 

But, you must also know the roots, the numeric prefixes, the polyatomic ions and the peridic table. These are prerequistes to naming chemical compounds.

Common Nonmetallic Roots

 H = hydro-  B = bor-  C = carb-
 N = nitr-  O = ox-  F = fluor-
 Si = silic-  P = phosph-  S = sulf-
 Cl = chlor-  As = arsen-  Se = selen-

 Br = brom-

 I = iod-  Sb = antimon-

Numeric Prefixes

 one = mono  two = di-  three = tri-
 four = tetra-  five = penta-  six = hexa-
 seven = hepta-  eight = oct-  nine = nona-
 ten = deca-  eleven = undeca-  twelve = dodeca-

Common Metallic Ions

Systematic Name

Common Name

 Cu+  copper (I)  cuprous
 Cu2+  copper (II)  cupric
 Co2+  cobalt (II)  
 Cr3+  chromium (III)  chromic
 Mn2+  manganese (II)  manganous
 Mn4+  manganese (IV)  manganic
 Ni2+  nickel (II)  
 Hg22+ mercury (I)  mecurous
 Hg2+  mercury (II)  mecuric
 Pb2+  lead (II)  plumbous
 Pb4+  lead (IV)  plumbic
 Fe2+   iron (II)  ferrous
 Fe3+  iron (II)  ferric
 Sn2+  tin (II)  stannous
 Sn4+  tin (IV)  stannic
 Al3+  aluminum  
 Ag+  silver