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

1 Answer
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. #CH_3CH_2OH#

If the hydroxy carbon is bonded to two carbons, then it is called as secondary alcohol. Eg. #CH_3CH(OH)CH_3#

If the hydroxy carbon is bonded to three carbons, then it is called as tertiary alcohol. Eg. #(CH_3)_3COH#

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