Chemical Nomenclature

Nomenclature, or naming of compounds, is essential for chemists to communicate with one another effectively.  Nomenclature is also important for maintaining safety within a chemistry lab.  Everyone must be speaking the same "chemical language" in order to avoid potential safety issues.  This course is designed to help you learn this "chemical language" called the IUPAC nomenclature. 

History of Nomenclature

History of Nomenclature

A smart, smart man...

In 1787, Antoine Lavoisier developed a naming system for chemical compounds that was extremely logical and universally accepted!  

We call this system the IUPAC nomenclature. (IUPAC stands for International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry)

Chemists now use the IUPAC nomenclature to name compounds.

The following is the basic outline for classifying inorganic compounds using this system.

There are three branches of inorganic compounds.  The first is ionic compounds which branches further into binary and ternary.  The second is molecular.  The third is aqueous acids which further branch into binary and ternary.

Basic outline for classifying inorganic compounds 


What are Inorganic Compounds?

Inorganic compounds are those that, for the most part, do not contain carbon. Carbon compounds are organic when they are bound (bonded) to hydrogen. Those compound that contain carbon atoms that are not bound to hydrogen are considered inorganic.  These include familiar examples such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonates among other less familiar examples such as cyanides, cyanates, carbides, and thiocyanates,  among others.  

Determining type of compound

Ionic Compounds

Ionic compounds contain a metal and a nonmetal

Compounds are ionic if they contain a metal and a nonmetal.  

Metals are to the left of the "staircase line" on the periodic table, nonmetals are to the right of the "staircase line" 


  • ionic compound
  • not an ionic compound

Which of the following is an ionic compound?

  • CO2
  • AgNO3
  • SO2
  • CCl4