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Binary Covalent Compounds

We come across communication between chemists or prescriptions from medical professionals which carries a lot of information regarding drug combinations but how do they arrive at the right combinations? This communication relies on being able to convey information in writing or over phone or mail and everything that is conveyed consists of compounds which have common names. These form of names are widespread and has no language or physical boundaries or barriers which stop the other from understanding.

Compounds which everyone understands now and are considered universal was provided by International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, an organisation continues to advise the community that works in science to invent and communicate with chemical nomenclature. It’s a pattern that is followed to name existing compounds as well as compounds that are yet to be determined or established. The rules for naming binary covalent compounds is also established to make these form of communications easy for both who exchange ideas, learners as well as the teaching fraternity.        

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What is Binary Compound?

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Covalent compounds are those which are mostly formed between two or more non-metal atoms. Learning the names of binary compounds is difficult as there are variety of naming schemes in existence. Non-metals exist in variety of oxidation numbers and hence the schemes of naming are devised to distinguish between two or more different compounds formed between the same two non-metal elements. For example compound formed between carbon and oxygen could be carbon monoxide or carbon di oxide.

Binary compounds are basically a series of combinations that were devised to establish the relations that exists between reacting elements which conform to the IUPAC rules and relate to the chemical character of the substance in question.

The most useful pattern for this class of compounds is the one that uses prefix to indicate the number of each type of atom in the formula.

These prefixes along with corresponding number of atoms which they represent utilise the rules and arrive at a specific nomenclature agreed by all and accepted by scientific community. The element which appears first in formula is also named first while the second word uses the stem of the second non-metal and finally end with a proper suffix.

Binary Covalent Compounds Definition

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Binary covalent compounds are nothing but the combinations between the two or more non-metal atoms arranged according to their electronegativity in a specific pattern. The element with relatively more electronegativity is placed on right while the rest take the first place. The names thus takes the same format and realise the element in first place to begin the name of compound with.

A prefix is also used in front of the name of the first element if there are more than one atom of this element indicated in the formula. For example, Nitrogen di oxide and di nitrogen oxide. In case of di nitrogen oxide (N2O), the presence of more than one Nitrogen atom uses a prefix of di to highlight the presence of two nitrogen atom. While in nitrogen di oxide (NO2) has two oxygen atoms to establish the fact that di in front of oxygen. 

The general scheme of the naming thus follows as the first word in the compound name consists of the prefix followed by the first element. The second word in the name consists of the prefix for the second element which is followed by the stem of the second element and finally suffix of –ide, -ous, and –ic.

Naming Binary Covalent Compounds

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The binary compounds which are formed by two or more non-metal atoms follow certain rules laid out by IUPAC.
  • The first element in formula is named first
  • Name of the element is used in full
  • The element number second is named as if it were an anion
  • The prefixes were utilised to provide the numbers of atoms first
  • The prefix of –mono is never used for naming the first element
  • The prefixes are used from Greek derived words for each element name to denote the subscript of the element in the given formula
  • The prefix of –mono is only used for the second element in the binary form of compounds to make this distinguishable from other examples containing multiple atoms
The prefixes used to indicate number are as follows:

 Number 
  Prefix 
 1  Mono
 2   Di
 3   Tri
 4   Tetra
 5   Penta
 6   Hexa
 7   Hepta
 8   Octa
 9   Nona
 10   Deca

Let us consider the nitrogen and oxygen based compounds to understand these better:

 Compound 
 Systematic Name   Common Name 
 $N_{2}O$  Di nitrogen monoxide   Nitrous oxide
 $NO$  Nitrogen monoxide  Nitric oxide
 $NO_{2}$  Nitrogen di oxide  
 $N_{2}O_{3}$ 
 Di nitrogen tri oxide  
 $N_{2}O_{4}$  Di nitrogen tetroxide  
 $N_{2}O_{5}$  Di nitrogen pentoxide  

In order to avoid confusing pronunciations we have to drop the final ‘o’ or ‘a’ of the prefix when these elements begin with a vowel. Like in case of Di nitrogen tetroxide, we drop a’ after tetra- oxide and instead use tetroxide. Similarly we use carbon monoxide and not carbon mono-oxide.

Let us consider the formula of NCl3. Here the compound is covalent and is a binary form of compound:
  • So by using the rule we first write – nitrogen
  • Next in order to finish the name of the molecule we add prefix
  • We assume nitrogen is mono and hence do not add the prefix before nitrogen
  • The prefix of tri- is used to establish the 3 atoms of chlorine and hence the name is written as nitrogen trichloride.

Binary Covalent Compounds Examples

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Some of the binary covalent compound examples are as follows:

 Compound Formula   Binary name 
 $HCL$  Hydrogen chloride 
 $CO$  Carbon monoxide
 $CO_{2}$  Carbon dioxide
 $SF_{4}$  Sulphur tetra fluoride 
 $SF_{6}$  Sulphur hexa fluoride 
 $S_{2}Cl_{2}$  Di-sulphur dichloride
 $P_{4}O_{6}$  Tetra phosphorous hexoxide 
 $ClO_{2}$  Chlorine dioxide
 $Cl_{2}O_{7}$  Di chlorine heptoxide
 $PCl_{5}$  Phosphorus pentachloride
 $NBr_{3}$  Nitrogen tri bromide
 $P_{4}S_{3}$  Tetra phosphorus tri sulphide 
 $XeO_{4}$  Xenon tetroxide
 $AsCl_{3}$  Arsenic trichloride

The Roman numeral pattern provides a name for all types of binary forms but the ‘ous and ‘ic pattern is restricted to only two compounds. Compounds having lower and higher oxidation numbers.

Some non-metal combinations can exist in multiple combining ratios. Nitrous oxide is the name assigned to $N_{2}O$ and at the same time nitric oxide is assigned to NO.

Binary Covalent Compounds List

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Binary compound list also comprises of binary acids such as HF, HCl, HI, and HBr while the rest are ternary acids like $H_{2}SO_{4}$, $HNO_{3}$, $H_{2}CO_{3}$ and $H_{3}PO_{4}$. These are also known as oxy-acids as the third element of the ternary formula is oxygen.

 Compound Formula   Compound Name 
 $NO_{3}$  Nitrogen trioxide
 $P_{2}O_{5}$  Di Phosphorus pentoxide 
 $CCl_{4}$  Carbon tetra chloride
 $HI$
 Hydrogen iodide
 $HF$  Hydrogen fluoride
 $HBr$  Hydrogen bromide
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