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What is Organic Chemistry

What is Organic Chemistry

Chemistry is largely classified into two groups, organic and inorganic. This article focuses on organic chemistry and states some important information related to it.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
Chemistry is a branch of physical science that specializes on studying matter, its structure, properties, composition, behavior, and the changes undergone by it under certain conditions. There are several sub branches, based on the specific kind of matter being taken and the mode of study. When it comes to different branches of chemistry, organic chemistry is one of the basic disciplines.


Organic chemistry deals with compounds containing carbon. The naming, structure, composition, and synthesis of carbon compounds, along with reactions to other substances, are studied under this discipline. The simplest example of an organic compound is glucose, represented with the chemical formula, (C6H12O6). Although the base element of study for organic chemistry is carbon, a compound that lacks hydrogen is not organic. To clear your doubts, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide are not organic compounds.

While studying organic chemistry, you will come to know the importance of the chemical bond formed between carbon atom and hydrogen atom. An organic compound can have other elements, besides carbon and hydrogen. Previously, it was believed that compounds derived exclusively from living organisms (either directly or indirectly), are organic. But, in the early 19th century, scientists succeeded in making man-made ones, which was a milestone in science.

People who specialize in organic chemistry are called organic chemists. The macromolecules found in living organisms are nothing but organic compounds. Whether you refer to nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, or lipids, you will find carbon and hydrogen in their formula. In short, life without organic compounds is impossible to survive.

As per scientific reports, more than six million organic compounds are identified. The number of carbon compounds is higher than all the remaining compounds combined together. It is estimated that the ratio of organic compounds to inorganic compounds is 10:1. So, you can imagine the importance of studying organic chemistry. In addition to their vast number, they possess unique properties and exhibit different structures, like chains, tubes, rings, and spheres.

Organic Families with Functional Groups

The scope of organic chemistry is very vast. For ease in understanding, the organic compounds sharing similar functional groups are categorized under the same organic family. Let's take the example of alkane family; this group comprises organic compounds that have a single bond between two carbon atoms. Thus, methane (CH4) and ethane (C2H6) are included in the family. For your reference, some carbon families along with their functional groups are listed below.
  • Alkane family (C-C): Presence of carbon-carbon single bond.
  • Alkene family (C=C): Presence of at least one double bond between two carbon atoms.
  • Alkyne family (C≡C): Presence of at least one triple bond between two carbon atoms.
  • Alcohol family (C-OH): Presence of hydroxyl group, attached to the carbon atom
  • Carboxylic acid family (C=O): Presence of double bond between carbon and oxygen atoms.
  • Ether family (C-O-C): An oxygen atom bonded to two other carbon groups.
  • Amine family (C-NH2): Presence of an amine group (NH2) in the compound.
A carbon atom bonds with another carbon atom and the chain continues. Also, the carbon atoms form strong bonds with other chemical elements, resulting in a wide range of compounds. Overall, studying organic chemistry is beneficial for mankind, in terms of developing new medicine, agricultural products, and industrial applications.