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Chemistry LibreTexts

13: Functional Group Reactions

There is a very large, often intimidating, number of organic chemistry reactions. These are the "tools" of a chemist, and to use these tools effectively, we must organize them in a sensible manner and look for patterns of reactivity that permit us make plausible predictions. Most of these reactions occur at special sites of reactivity known as functional groups, and these constitute one organizational scheme that helps us catalog and remember reactions. Ultimately, the best way to achieve proficiency in organic chemistry is to understand how reactions take place, and to recognize the various factors that influence their course.Functional groups are atoms or small groups of atoms (two to four) that exhibit a characteristic reactivity when treated with certain reagents. A particular functional group will almost always display its characteristic chemical behavior when it is present in a compound. Because of this, the discussion of organic reactions is often organized according to functional groups.