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Interpretting 1H-NMR Spectra

Let's summarise what can be obtained from a 1H NMR spectrum:
How many types of H ? Indicated by how many groups of signals there are in the spectra
What types of H ?  Indicated by the chemical shift of each group
How many H of each type are there? Indicated by the integration (relative area) of the signal for each group.
What is the connectivity ? Look at the coupling patterns. This tells you what is next to each group

Chemical shift

Figure of chemical shifts for different types of H

Note that the figure shows the typical chemical shifts for protons being influenced by a single group. In cases where a proton is influenced by more than one group, the effects are essentially cumulative.


Coupling Be aware that the exact substitution pattern around a particular H causes changes in the chemical shift and therefore ranges of values are given in the tables and the above figure. Having a good "feel" for the typical chemical shifts will save yourself lots of time in examinations, and avoid confusion.

An example of an H NMR is shown below.

Typical H-nmr spectrum

Based on the outline given above the four sets of information we get are:

5 basic types of H present in the ratio of 5 : 2 : 2 : 2 : 3.
These are seen as a 5H "singlet" (ArH), two 2H triplets, a 2H quartet and a 3H triplet. Each triplet tells us that there are 2H in the adjacent position, and a quartet tells us that there are 3H adjacent.
(Think of it as the lines you see, L = n + 1, where n = number of equivalent adjacent H)
This tells us we that the peaks at 4.4 and 2.8 ppm must be connected as a CH2CH2 unit.
The peaks at 2.1 and 0.9 ppm as a CH2CH3 unit. Using the chemical shift charts, the H can be assigned to the peaks as below:

7.2ppm (5H) = ArH
4.4ppm (2H) = CH2O
2.8ppm (2H) = Ar-CH2
2.1ppm (2H) = O=CCH2CH3 and
0.9ppm (3H) = CH2CH3


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