In chemical nomenclature, the IUPAC nomenclature of inorganic chemistry is a systematic method of naming inorganic chemical compounds, as recommended by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). It is published in Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry (which is informally called the Red Book). Ideally, every inorganic compound should have a name from which an unambiguous formula can be determined. There is also an IUPAC nomenclature of organic chemistry.
The names "caffeine" and "3,7-dihydro-1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione" both signify the same chemical. The systematic name encodes the structure and composition of the caffeine molecule in some detail, and provides an unambiguous reference to this compound, whereas the name "caffeine" just names it. These advantages make the systematic name far superior to the common name when absolute clarity and precision are required. However, for the sake of brevity, even professional chemists will use the non-systematic name almost all of the time, because caffeine is a well-known common chemical with a unique structure. Similarly, H2O is most often simply called water in English, though other chemical names do exist.
- Single atom anions are named with an -ide suffix: for example, H− is hydride.
- Compounds with a positive ion (cation): The name of the compound is simply the cation's name (usually the same as the element's), followed by the anion. For example, NaCl is sodium chloride, and CaF2 is calcium fluoride.
- Cations which have taken on more than one positive charge are labeled with Roman numerals in parentheses. For example, Cu+ is copper(I), Cu2+ is copper(II). An older, deprecated notation is to append -ous or -ic to the root of the Latin name to name ions with a lesser or greater charge. Under this naming convention, Cu+ is cuprous and Cu2+ is cupric. For naming metal complexes see the page on complex (chemistry).
- Oxyanions (polyatomic anions containing oxygen) are named with -ite or -ate, for a lesser or greater quantity of oxygen, respectively. For example, NO−
2 is nitrite, while NO−
3 is nitrate. If four oxyanions are possible, the prefixes hypo- and per- are used: hypochlorite is ClO−, perchlorate is ClO−
- The prefix bi- is a deprecated way of indicating the presence of a single hydrogen ion, as in "sodium bicarbonate" (NaHCO3). The modern method specifically names the hydrogen atom. Thus, NaHCO3 would be pronounced sodium hydrogen carbonate.
Positively charged ions are called cations and negatively charged ions are called anions. The cation is always named first. Ions can be metals, non-metals or polyatomic ions. Therefore, the name of the metal or positive polyatomic ion is followed by the name of the non-metal or negative polyatomic ion. The positive ion retains its element name whereas for a single non-metal anion the ending is changed to -ide.
When the metal has more than one possible ionic charge or oxidation number the name becomes ambiguous. In these cases the oxidation number (the same as the charge) of the metal ion is represented by a Roman numeral in parentheses immediately following the metal ion name. For example, in uranium(VI) fluoride the oxidation number of uranium is 6. Another example is the iron oxides. FeO is iron(II) oxide and Fe2O3 is iron(III) oxide.
An older system used prefixes and suffixes to indicate the oxidation number, according to the following scheme:
|Oxidation state||Cations and acids||Anions|
|Lowest||hypo- -ous||hypo- -ite|
|per- -ic||per- -ate|
|Highest||hyper- -ic||hyper- -ate|
Thus the four oxyacids of chlorine are called hypochlorous acid (HOCl), chlorous acid (HOClO), chloric acid (HOClO2) and perchloric acid (HOClO3), and their respective conjugate bases are the hypochlorite, chlorite, chlorate and perchlorate ions. This system has partially fallen out of use, but survives in the common names of many chemical compounds: the modern literature contains few references to "ferric chloride" (instead calling it "iron(III) chloride"), but names like "potassium permanganate" (instead of "potassium manganate(VII)") and "sulfuric acid" abound.
Naming simple ionic compounds
An ionic compound is named by its cation followed by its anion. See polyatomic ion for a list of possible ions.
For cations that take on multiple charges, the charge is written using Roman numerals in parentheses immediately following the element name. For example, Cu(NO3)2 is copper(II) nitrate, because the charge of two nitrate ions (NO−
3) is 2 × −1 = −2, and since the net charge of the ionic compound must be zero, the Cu ion has a 2+ charge. This compound is therefore copper(II) nitrate. In the case of cations with a +4 oxidation state, the only acceptable format for the Roman numeral 4 is IV and not IIII.
The Roman numerals in fact show the oxidation number, but in simple ionic compounds (i.e., not metal complexes) this will always equal the ionic charge on the metal. For a simple overview see , for more details see selected pages from IUPAC rules for naming inorganic compounds.
List of common ion names
3 hydrogen sulfite (or bisulfite)
3 hydrogen carbonate (or bicarbonate)
4 hydrogen phosphate
4 dihydrogen phosphate
Hydrates are ionic compounds that have absorbed water. They are named as the ionic compound followed by a numerical prefix and -hydrate. The numerical prefixes used are listed below (see IUPAC numerical multiplier):
For example, CuSO4·5H2O is "copper(II) sulfate pentahydrate".
Naming molecular compounds
Inorganic molecular compounds are named with a prefix (see list above) before each element. The more electronegative element is written last and with an -ide suffix. For example, H2O (water) can be called dihydrogen monoxide. Organic molecules do not follow this rule. In addition, the prefix mono- is not used with the first element; for example, SO2 is sulfur dioxide, not "monosulfur dioxide". Sometimes prefixes are shortened when the ending vowel of the prefix "conflicts" with a starting vowel in the compound. This makes the name easier to pronounce; for example, CO is "carbon monoxide" (as opposed to "monooxide").
There are a number of exceptions and special cases that violate the above rules. Sometimes the prefix is left off of the initial atom: I2O5 is known as iodine pentoxide, but it should be called diiodine pentoxide. N2O3 is called nitrogen sesquioxide (sesqui- means 1 1⁄2).
The main oxide of phosphorus is called phosphorus pentoxide. It should actually be diphosphorus pentoxide, but it is assumed that there are two phosphorus atoms (P2O5), as they are needed in order to balance the oxidation numbers of the five oxygen atoms. However, people have known for years that the real form of the molecule is P4O10, not P2O5, yet it is not normally called tetraphosphorus decaoxide.
In writing formulas, ammonia is NH3 even though nitrogen is more electronegative (in line with the convention used by IUPAC as detailed in Table VI of the red book). Likewise, methane is written as CH4 even though carbon is more electronegative (Hill system).
Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry
Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry, commonly referred to by chemists as the Red Book, is a collection of recommendations on IUPAC nomenclature, published at irregular intervals by the IUPAC. The last full edition was published in 2005, in both paper and electronic versions.
|2005||Recommendations 2005 (Red Book)||RSC Publishing||0-85404-438-8|
|2001||Recommendations 2000 (Red Book II)
|1990||Recommendations 1990 (Red Book I)||Blackwell||0-632-02494-1|
|1971||Definitive Rules 1970 ||Butterworth||0-408-70168-4|
|1940/1941||1940 Rules||Scientific journals|
- IUPAC nomenclature
- IUPAC nomenclature of organic chemistry
- List of inorganic compounds
- Water of Crystallization
- IUPAC nomenclature of inorganic chemistry 2005 (the Red Book)
- Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry (the Blue Book)
- Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry (the Green Book)
- Compendium of Chemical Terminology (the Gold Book)
- Compendium of Analytical Nomenclature (the Orange Book)
- Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry IUPAC Recommendations 2005 - Full text (PDF)
2004 version with separate chapters as pdf: IUPAC Provisional Recommendations for the Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry (2004) Archived 2008-02-19 at the Wayback Machine
- International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (2005). Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry (IUPAC Recommendations 2005). Cambridge (UK): RSC–IUPAC. ISBN 0-85404-438-8. Electronic version.
- Bibliography of IUPAC Recommendations on Inorganic Nomenclature (last updated 17 February 2004)
- ChemTeam Highschool Tutorial
- PDF file SUNY Potsdam.edu
- American Chemical Society, Committee on Nomenclature, Terminology & Symbols
- Online version (2005 Recommendations)
- Recommendations 2000-Red Book II (incomplete)
- Definitive Rules 1970 (pdf)
- Official site
- IUPAC Nomenclature Books Series (commonly known as the "Colour Books")
- Bibliography of translations