How to Name Binary Acids

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Chemistry is a language all its own. The basics are always nice to know. Start by learning how to name ions and compounds, and then learn how to assign oxidation numbers. Read below to find out how binary acids get names and symbols.

  • Start with the rule that all acids have hydrogen (H) as the first element. Examples include HCl for hydrochloric acid and HBr for hydrobromic acid.

  • Understand that there are only two main categories of acids--binary and oxyacids. Binary acids contain two elements, and oxyacids are the ones that contain oxygen. To be specific those oxyacids contain hydrogen and oxyanions (an anion containing a nonmetal and oxygen).

  • Recognize the fact that binary acids are composed of hydrogen and a nonmetal. So, look at your periodic table and get up to speed with the names of the nonmetals to help you recognize components of binary acids.

  • Name binary acids using the following form: hydro + the base name of the nonmetal (and "ic") + acid. Yes, it is that easy.

  • Go to online science forums, or pick up a good chemistry text for more examples. Here is one more, HI stands for hydroiodic acid. It has hydrogen and iodine as its components.

  • Practice by pulling up a list on the Internet or in a textbook of words for acids. Pick out the binary acids, and put the right symbols with the right words.

  • Reverse the process now, and see if you can figure out the right words to go with the symbols for the binary acids.

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