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There's not much that's exciting about naming compounds, it's basically a set of rules. We're going to show you the basics. There are some really advanced ways of naming things that we're going to skip right now.

Let's start with some basic rules. When you have two different elements, there are usually only two words in the compound name. The first word is the name of the first element. The second word tells you the second element and how many atoms there are in the compound. The second word also ends in IDE, that's the suffix. When you are working with non-metals like Oxygen and Chlorine, the prefix, or section at the beginning of the word, works like this...
[Image:Chalkboard with prefix explanation.]D

Do you recognize anything? Can you see that the prefixes are very similar to the prefixes of geometric shapes? You know what a triangle is, right? Well the prefix tri- means three. So when you have three chlorine atoms, you would name it trichloride.

Look at the other names too. You may know what a pentagon is, a hexagon, or an octagon. The naming system in chemistry works the same way!
So let's put these ideas together! Remember, we're only talking about simple compounds with no metal elements right now. Most simple compounds only have two words in their names. Let's start with Carbon monoxide (CO). You have one Carbon atom and one Oxygen atom (you can also use the prefix MONO to say one atom). Remember, that the second word ends in -ide. So...

(1) Carbon + (1) Oxygen = Carbon monoxide

Now one more. What if you have one Carbon and two Oxygen atoms?

(1) Carbon + (2) Oxygen = Carbon dioxide

One last example and we'll call it quits. Now you have one Carbon and four Chlorine atoms.

(1) Carbon + (4) Chlorine = Carbon tetrachloride

So now you should get the idea. The compound name can tell you how many atoms are inside. Take a look at some of the examples and see if you understand what is happening in the name.

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