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# What is the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols?

Mar 23, 2016

The alcohol contains functional group -OH.
You have to check for the hydroxy carbon i.e. the carbon to which this -OH is bonded to.

If the hydroxy carbon is bonded to only one carbon, then it is called as primary alcohol. Eg. $C {H}_{3} C {H}_{2} O H$

If the hydroxy carbon is bonded to two carbons, then it is called as secondary alcohol. Eg. $C {H}_{3} C H \left(O H\right) C {H}_{3}$

If the hydroxy carbon is bonded to three carbons, then it is called as tertiary alcohol. Eg. ${\left(C {H}_{3}\right)}_{3} C O H$

Note : you do not look for the OH bonded with number of carbons. you look for the hydroxy carbon bonded to number of carbons.