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Base Name NomenclatureThe Phenyl and Benzyl GroupsCommonly Named Benzene Compounds Nomenclature Summary FlowchartPractice Problems

Unlike aliphatic organics, nomenclature of benzene-derived compounds can be confusing because a single aromatic compound can have multiple possible names (such as common and systematic names) be associated with its structure. In these sections, we will analyze some of the ways these compounds can be named.

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Simple Benzene Naming

Some common substituents, like NO2, Br, and Cl, can be named this way when it is attached to a phenyl group. Long chain carbons attached can also be named this way. The general format for this kind of naming is:

(positions of substituents (if >1)- + # (di, tri, ...) + substituent)n + benzene.

For example, chlorine (Cl) attached to a phenyl group would be named chlorobenzene (chloro + benzene). Since there is only one substituent on the benzene ring, we do not have to indicate its position on the benzene ring (as it can freely rotate around and you would end up getting the same compound.)

Figure 8. Example of simple benzene naming with chlorine and NO2 as substituents.

Figure 9. More complicated simple benzene naming examples - Note that standard nomenclature priority rules are applied here, causing the numbering of carbons to switch. See Nomenclature of Organic Compounds for a review on naming and priority rules.

Ortho-, Meta-, Para- (OMP) Nomenclature for Disubstituted Benzenes

Instead of using numbers to indicate substituents on a benzene ring, ortho- (o-), meta- (m-), or para (p-) can be used in place of positional markers when there are two substituents on the benzene ring (disubstituted benzenes). They are defined as the following:

ortho- (o-): 1,2- (next to each other in a benzene ring) meta- (m): 1,3- (separated by one carbon in a benzene ring) para- (p): 1,4- (across from each other in a benzene ring)

Using the same example above in figure 9a (1,3-dichlorobenzene), we can use the ortho-, meta-, para- nomenclature to transform the glaskragujevca.netical name into m-dichlorobenzene, as shown in the figure below.

Figure 10. Transformation of 1,3-dichlorobenzene into m-dichlorobenzene.

Here are some other examples of ortho-, meta-, para- nomenclature used in context:


However, the substituents used in ortho-, meta-, para- nomenclature do not have to be the same. For example, we can use chlorine and a nitro group as substituents in the benzene ring.


In conclusion, these can be pieced together into a summary diagram, as shown below:

Figure 14. An example showing phenol as a base in its glaskragujevca.netical name. Note how benzene no longer serves as a base when an OH group is added to the benzene ring.

Alternatively, we can use the numbering system to indicate this compound. When the numbering system is used, the carbon where the substituent is attached on the base will be given the first priority and named as carbon #1 (C1). The normal priority rules then apply in the nomenclature process (give the rest of the substituents the lowest numbering as you could).

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Figure 22. Benzyl Group Nomenclature

Additionally, other substituents can attach on the benzene ring in the presence of the benzyl group. An example of this can be seen in the figure below:


api/deki/files/2302/BenzeneFlow.png?revision=1&size=bestfit&width=720&height=911" />Summary Flowchart (Figure 24). Summary of nomenclature rules used in commonly benzene derived compounds.As benzene derived compounds can be extremely complex, only compounds covered in this article and other commonly named compounds can be named using this flowchart.

Determination of Common and Systematic Names using Flowchart

To demonstrate how this flowchart can be used to name TNT in its common and systematic (IUPAC) name, a replica of the flowchart with the appropriate flow paths are shown below: