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Naming Amides

Definition of Amides:

Primary amides are organic chemical compounds that include the functional group:

Amide Group

That is, primary* amides are a class or category of organic chemical compounds that include a part consisting of a carbon atom connected to both:

  • a nitrogen atom connected to two hydrogen atoms by single covalent bonds between the nitogen and each of the hydrogen atoms (that is an -amine group).
  • an oxygen atom (connected to the carbon atom by a double covalent bond).

Amide molecules can vary in size up to very long molecules most of which consist of carbon atoms attached to each other and also to hydrogen atoms.

An alternative group-name for amides is carboxamides, i.e. the Carboxamide Group (of Chemicals).

Names of Amides in General

Amides are named according to the same system as other organic compounds, with the suffix -amide used to designate the presence in the molecule of an amide group.

The first step is to consider the number of carbon atoms forming a chain. If they are attached together in a linear (i.e. unbranched) configuration then the number of carbon atoms is indicated according to the same system as used for alkanes (see the examples listed in the table below).

If the carbon atoms do not form a linear chain but include branches, the linear chain of carbon atoms within the molecule determines the base of the name of the compound - onto which is added information about the branches incl. their lengths in terms of the number of carbon atoms in each branch (i.e. methyl- indicates a branch consisting of just one carbon atom attached to the main chain, ethyl- indicates a branch of two carbon atoms in length, etc.). and their positions along the longest linear carbon chain.

The simplest linear primary amides are named and their structures drawn first. Larger and more complex molecules follow afterwards.

Names and Structures of simple Linear Primary Amides

The homologous series of linear amides with the -amide group attached to the first (=last) carbon atom is shown below.

Simple Structure

Other Names = Synonyns
(*Examples not complete lists)

and simple formula

showing bond types but not accurate bond angles


formamide (CH3NO)

Structure of methanamide


ethanamide (C2H5NO)

Structure of ethanamide


propanamide (C3H7NO)

Structure of propanamide


butanamide (C4H9NO)

Structure of butanamide


pentanamide (C5H11NO)

Structure of pentanamide


hexanamide (C6H13NO)

structure of hexanamide


heptanamide (C7H15NO)

Structure of heptanamide


octanamide (C8H17NO)

structure of octanamide


nonanamide (C9H19NO)

Structure of nonanamide


decanamide (C10H21NO)

structure of decanamide

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