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Basic IUPAC Organic Nomenclature

Common names for alkyl substituents

Certain alkyl substituents are very common, and you should be able to recognise and name them quickly, these are listed below.
In each case, the structural formula of the substituent is given where the C that is attached to the rest of the molecule is in bold. A line drawing of a generic example and the molecular models of the series of alkyl bromides are also available.


Structural formula
Symbol Generic line drawing
Me methyl
CH3CH2- ethyl-
Et ethyl
CH3CH2CH2- propyl-
Pr propyl
(CH3)2CH- isopropyl-
iPr isopropyl
CH3CH2CH2CH2- butyl-
CH3CHCH2CH3 sec-butyl- or s-butyl
(CH3)2CHCH2- isobutyl
(CH3)3C- tert-butyl or t-butyl
tBu tert-butyl

Use the buttons on the right to see the various alkyl groups in the corresponding alkyl bromides, R-Br.

organic chemistry ©Dr. Ian Hunt, Department of Chemistry University of Calgary