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Question 12

Arrange the following compounds in increasing order of their property as indicated:

(i) Acetaldehyde, Acetone, Di-tert-butyl ketone, Methyl tert-butyl ketone (reactivity towards HCN)

(ii) CH3CH2CH(Br)COOH, CH3CH(Br)CH2COOH, (CH3)2CHCOOH, CH3CH2CH2COOH (acid strength)

(iii) Benzoic acid, 4-Nitrobenzoic acid, 3,4-Dinitrobenzoic acid, 4-Methoxybenzoic acid (acid strength)


(i) When HCN reacts with a compound, the attacking species is a nucleophile, CN - . Therefore, as the negative charge on the compound increases, its reactivity with HCN decreases. In the given compounds, the +I effect increases as shown below. It can be observed that steric hindrance also increases in the same

Hence, the given compounds can be arranged according to their increasing reactivities toward HCN as:

Di-tert-butyl ketone < Methyl tert-butyl ketone < Acetone < Acetaldehyde


(ii) After losing a proton, carboxylic acids gain a negative charge as shown:

Now, any group that will help stabilise the negative charge will increase the stability of the carboxyl ion and as a result, will increase the strength of the acid. Thus, groups having +I effect will decrease the strength of the acids and groups having - I effect will increase the strength of the acids. In the given compounds, - CH3group has +I effect and Br - group has - I effect. Thus, acids containing Br - are stronger.

Now, the +I effect of isopropyl group is more than that of n-propyl group. Hence, (CH3)2CHCOOH is a weaker acid than CH3CH2CH2COOH.

Also, the - I effect grows weaker as distance increases. Hence, CH3CH(Br)CH2COOH is a weaker acid than CH3CH2CH(Br)COOH.

Hence, the strengths of the given acids increase as:



(iii) As we have seen in the previous case, electron-donating groups decrease the strengths of acids, while electron-withdrawing groups increase the strengths of acids. As methoxy group is an electron-donating group, 4-methoxybenzoic acid is a weaker acid than benzoic acid. Nitro group is an electron-withdrawing group and will increase the strengths of acids. As 3,4-dinitrobenzoic acid contains two nitro groups, it is a slightly stronger acid than 4-nitrobenzoic acid. Hence, the strengths of the given acids increase as:

4-Methoxybenzoic acid < Benzoic acid < 4-Nitrobenzoic acid
< 3,4-Dinitrobenzoic acid

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