Introduced some of the fundamental concepts of chemistry, with particular attention to the basic properties of atoms and elements. These entities are the building blocks of all substances we encounter, yet most common substances do not consist of only pure elements or individual atoms. Instead, nearly all substances are chemical compounds or mixtures of chemical compounds. Although there are only about 115 elements (of which about 86 occur naturally), millions of chemical compounds are known, with a tremendous range of physical and chemical properties. Consequently, a major emphasis of modern chemistry focuses on understanding the relationship between the structures and properties of chemical compounds.
In this chapter, you will learn how to describe the composition of chemical compounds. We introduce chemical nomenclature—the language of chemistry—that will enable you to recognize and name the most common kinds of compounds. An understanding of chemical nomenclature not only is essential for your study of chemistry but also has other benefits—for example, it helps you understand the labels on products found in the supermarket and the pharmacy. You will also be better equipped to understand many of the important environmental and medical issues that face society. By the end of this chapter, you will be able to describe what happens chemically when a doctor prepares a cast to stabilize a broken bone, and you will know the composition of common substances such as laundry bleach, the active ingredient in baking powder, and the foul-smelling compound responsible for the odor of spoiled fish. Finally, you will be able to explain the chemical differences among different grades of gasoline.