Skip to content
Related Articles
Open in App
Not now

Related Articles

Classification of Organic Compounds

Improve Article
Save Article
Like Article
  • Difficulty Level : Medium
  • Last Updated : 23 Mar, 2022
Improve Article
Save Article
Like Article

There are over 27 million chemical compounds known. As a result, studying them separately is nearly impossible. Thus there is a need for the classification of organic compounds.

Organic substances can be categorized in two ways structurally and chemically i.e.,

  • Based on structure
  • Based on functional group

A general classification of the organic compound on the basis of structure is described in the below image

Acyclic  compounds

These are the compounds formed by joining carbon atoms to form an open chain. Aliphatic compounds are another name for these chemicals. 

Their structure might be either straight or branched chains.

Example of straight-chain,

  • n-Butane: CH3​−CH2​−CH2​−CH3          

Example of branched-chain,

  • Isobutane:



Cyclic compounds

These are the compounds in which carbon atoms are joined to form one or more rings with or without heteroatom. 

They are further classified into two types as homocyclic and heterocyclic compounds.

  • Homocyclic or carbocyclic: In these compounds, the ring is made up of carbon atoms only. Homocyclic compounds are further divided into two types:


  1. Alicyclic compounds: These compounds show some of the properties similar to those of aliphatic compounds. In these homocyclic compounds, carbon atoms are linked by single bonds only. e.g. Cyclopropane, etc. 
  2. Aromatic Compounds: These compounds contain at least one aromatic ring which resembles benzene in their chemical behavior. e.g. Benzene, etc.
    • Aromatic compounds are further divided into benzenoid and non-benzenoid compounds. At least one benzene ring is present in the structure of benzenoid compounds and Non-benzenoid substances have an aromatic ring that is not benzene. Thus.


  • Heterocyclic compounds: These compounds include one or more heteroatoms like oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, etc. in the ring of carbon atoms. They are also further divided into two types.


  1. Hetero-alicyclic compounds: Alicyclic compounds which contain at least one heteroatom in the ring are called hetero-alicyclic compounds. e.g. Tetrahydrofuran (THF), etc.
  2. Hetero-aromatic compounds: Aromatic compounds which contain at least one heteroatom in the ring are called hetero-aromatic compounds. e.g. Furan, etc.
    • Hetero-aromatic compounds are classified as benzenoid compounds and non-benzenoid compounds as,

Classification of Organic Compounds on the basis of functional group

The functional group is the part of a molecule that influences its chemical characteristics. Every organic molecule’s chemistry, regardless of size or complexity, is defined by the functional group it contains.

Organic compounds are categorized as follows based on their functional group 

S. no.


General Formula

Functional Group

Common Suffix/prefix (systematic)





R – H

 C – C  




R – CH = CH – R

 C = C  




R – C ≡ C – R

 C ≡ C  







Halogen containing compounds


Alkyl Halides

R – X

– X



Aryl Halides




Oxygen-containing compound



R – OH

– OH (hydroxyl)




Ar – OH

– OH (Phenolic)




R – O – R’

– C – O – C – 








RR’C = O



Carboxylic acid


-ic acid


Carboxylic acid derivatives 










Nitrogen-containing compound




-NH2 (Amino)




RC ≡ N

– C ≡ N



Nitro Compounds




  • R – Represents Alkyl group and 
  • Ar – represents Aryl group

Homologous Series

A homologous series is a set of organic compounds that each include a distinct functional group and differ from one another in the molecular formula by the a-CH2-(methylene) group.

Individual series members are referred to as homologs, and they can be represented by a generic molecular formula. Homologs are ordered in increasing order of molecular mass in homologous series.

The General molecular formula is, CnH2n + 1 (Functional group)

For Example, the homologous series of alcohol is




Methyl alcohol


Ethyl alcohol


Propyl alcohol


Butyl alcohol

NOTE: Ethyl alcohol is higher homologous of methyl alcohol but a lower homolog of propyl alcohol

Characteristics of homologous series

The following are the characteristics of homologous series:

  • The same general formula may be used to express homologs.
  • Homologs are members of the same functional group.
  • Because the consecutive components’ chemical formulas change by -CH2-group, their molecular weights differ by 14 units.
  • Homologs can be synthesized using comparable chemical processes.
  • Homologs have chemical characteristics that are identical.
  • Physical characteristics such as melting point, boiling temperature, density, solubility, and so on vary across homologs.

Sample Questions

Question 1: Write the name of the class of the following organic compound

  • CH3 – (CH2)3 – CH2 – Cl
  • CH3 – CH2 – CH2 – NH2
  • CH3 – CH2 – OCH3


  • The first compound contains an halogen atom (-Cl) thus, its an alkylhalide
  • The second compound contains amino group(-NH2) thus its an amine
  • The third compound contains a ether group thus its an ether.

Question 2: Write the complete structural formula of the following organic compound

  • 4-Ethyl-3 methyl octane
  • 2-Methylbutan-2-ol
  • 2-Methylcyclohexa-1, 3-diene


4-Ethyl-3 methyl octane


2-Methylcyclohexa-1, 3-diene

Question 3: Write a note on the homologous series and write the general molecular formula?


Homologous series is a series of organic compounds containing characteristics functional group and the successive member differ from each other by a -CH2 group.

Organic compounds form homologous series such as alkanes, akenes, alknes, alcohol, amines, etc.

General Molecular Formula: CnH2n + 1 (Functional group)

Question 4: Write the name and molecular formula of the first six homologous of homologous series of alkyl chlorides.


Molecular formula CnH2n + 1 X

The first 6 homologous series of alkyl chloride are

  1. CH3Cl  (methyl chloride)
  2. C2H5Cl  (ethyl chloride)
  3. C3H7Cl  (propyl chloride)
  4. C4H9Cl  (butyl chloride)
  5. C5H11Cl  (pentyl chloride)
  6. C6H13Cl  (hexyl chloride)

Question 5: Write the structural formula of the first 4 members of the homologous series of the following compounds

  • Aldehydes
  • Carboxylic acid



  1. H -CHO (methanal)
  2. CH3 – CHO (ethanal)
  3. CH3 – CH2 – CHO (propanal)
  4. CH3 – CH2 – CH2 – CHO (butunal)

Carboxylic acid

  1. H – COOH (methanoic acid)
  2. CH3 – COOH (ethanoic acid)
  3. CH3 – CH2 – COOH (propanoic acid)
  4. CH3 – CH2 – CH2  – COOH (butanoic acid)

 Question 6: Name the following organic compounds. List the names of functional groups in each compound


  1. 4-Hydroxypent 2-enal [Functional group – hydroxy, aldehyde, alkene]
  2. 4-amino- 4-methylpentan-2 one [Functional group – Amino, keto]
  3. 2-3 dimethyl butane-2-3 diol [Functional group – hydroxy]

My Personal Notes arrow_drop_up
Like Article
Save Article
Related Articles

Start Your Coding Journey Now!