# What are some common mistakes students make with E-Z isomerism?

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#### Explanation

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#### Explanation:

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Nov 9, 2015

There are many mistakes students trip on that will be explained below.

#### Explanation:

To make it easier for us, we can call E-Z isomerism as Cis -Trans isomerism. One particular mistake that students often do is incorrectly distinguishing the difference between Cis and Trans isomers.

For instance, a Trans isomer is one containing a $C = C$ double bond with two different functional groups. The two functional groups have to be on the opposite planes from each other. To remember this we simply think of the Trans-Atlantic ocean as being across the ocean. See the image I made on paint below:

Now, the Cis isomer is the exact same as the Trans isomer, however, now the functional groups are opposite each other i.e. face to face. See the image I made on paint below:

Another tripper is that students forget to know when a molecule shows Cis -Trans isomerism. A Cis -Trans isomer needs to have two things in its molecule:

1. A $C = C$ double bond = This is what gives a molecule the definition of a Cis -Trans isomer. The double bond restricts rotation of one side of the molecule, so you simply can't twist it to yield both isomers.

2. Different functional groups on each $C$ of the $C = C$ double bond = The two carbon atoms of the double bond must be bonded to two different functional groups i.e. you cannot have a carbon bonded to two hydrogen atoms, since the two hydrogen atoms are identical to each other.

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