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Carbonyl vs. Carboxyl: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 7, 2024
Carbonyl is a functional group with a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen (C=O), whereas Carboxyl contains a carbonyl and a hydroxyl group (COOH).
Carbonyl vs. Carboxyl

Key Differences

Carbonyl groups are characterized by a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom. They are a key feature in various organic compounds, including aldehydes and ketones. In contrast, a carboxyl group combines a carbonyl group with a hydroxyl group (OH), making it a defining feature of carboxylic acids. This structural difference leads to distinct chemical properties and reactivities.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 07, 2024
In the context of molecular structure, carbonyl groups contribute to the polarity of molecules due to the electronegativity of oxygen, affecting solubility and boiling points. Carboxyl groups, on the other hand, are more polar due to the additional OH group, impacting solubility and acidity of compounds like amino acids and fatty acids.
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The reactivity of carbonyl groups in organic synthesis is significant, with reactions often occurring at the carbon of the C=O bond. In contrast, carboxyl groups are known for their acidic properties, as they can donate a hydrogen ion (H+) from the hydroxyl part, leading to the formation of carboxylate ions in solution.
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In biological systems, carbonyl groups are integral to the structure and function of sugars and proteins. Carboxyl groups, however, play a crucial role in energy metabolism and protein synthesis due to their presence in amino acids and fatty acids.
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The physical properties of compounds containing carbonyl groups, such as aldehydes and ketones, differ markedly from those with carboxyl groups, like carboxylic acids and esters. This is due to the differences in bonding and the presence of the hydroxyl group in carboxyl groups.
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Comparison Chart

Chemical Structure

C=O
COOH
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Types of Compounds

Aldehydes, Ketones
Carboxylic Acids, Esters
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Chemical Reactivity

Reactivity at C=O carbon
Acidic properties, forms carboxylate ions
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Biological Role

Sugars, Proteins
Amino Acids, Fatty Acids
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Physical Properties

Varies with compound type
Generally more polar, affects solubility
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Carbonyl and Carboxyl Definitions

Carbonyl

In carbonyl compounds, the carbon-oxygen double bond is a site of chemical reactivity.
In benzaldehyde, the carbonyl group is reactive and forms various derivatives.
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Carboxyl

Carboxyl groups can ionize in solution, releasing a hydrogen ion and forming a carboxylate ion.
In vinegar, the acetic acid partially ionizes, releasing hydrogen ions from its carboxyl group.
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Carbonyl

Carbonyl groups characterize aldehydes and ketones, essential in organic chemistry.
Acetone, a common solvent, is a ketone with a central carbonyl group.
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Carboxyl

A carboxyl group is a functional group consisting of a carbonyl and a hydroxyl group (COOH).
Acetic acid contains a carboxyl group, giving it acidic properties.
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Carbonyl

A carbonyl is a functional group consisting of a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom.
Formaldehyde, a simple aldehyde, contains a carbonyl group.
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Carboxyl

The presence of a carboxyl group significantly affects the solubility and reactivity of organic compounds.
Benzoic acid, used as a food preservative, is more soluble in hot water due to its carboxyl group.
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Carbonyl

Carbonyl groups influence the physical properties like boiling point and solubility of organic molecules.
Acetaldehyde has a higher boiling point due to its carbonyl group.
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Carboxyl

In biological molecules, carboxyl groups are essential in amino acids and fatty acids.
Glycine, an amino acid, contains a carboxyl group critical for protein structure.
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Carbonyl

In biochemistry, carbonyl groups are present in sugars and contribute to their structure.
Glucose, a simple sugar, contains a carbonyl group that defines its aldose structure.
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Carboxyl

Carboxyl groups are the defining feature of carboxylic acids and are acidic in nature.
Citric acid, found in citrus fruits, contains three carboxyl groups.
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Carbonyl

The bivalent group C=O.
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Carboxyl

The univalent group, -COOH, the functional group characteristic of all organic acids.
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Carbonyl

A metal compound, such as Ni(CO)4, containing the CO group.
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Carboxyl

(organic chemistry) A univalent functional group consisting of a carbonyl and a hydroxyl functional group (-CO.OH); characteristic of carboxylic acids.
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Carbonyl

(organic chemistry) In organic chemistry, a divalent functional group, (-CO-), characteristic of aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, amides, carboxylic acid anhydrides, carbonyl halides, esters and others.
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Carboxyl

The complex radical, CO.OH, regarded as the essential and characteristic constituent which all oxygen acids of carbon (as formic, acetic, benzoic acids, etc.) have in common; - called also oxatyl.
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Carbonyl

(inorganic chemistry) Any compound of a metal with carbon monoxide, such as nickel carbonyl, Ni(CO)4.
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Carboxyl

The univalent radical -COOH; present in and characteristic of organic acids
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Carbonyl

The radical (CO)´´, occuring, always combined, in many compounds, as the aldehydes, the ketones, urea, carbonyl chloride, etc.
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Carboxyl

Relating to or containing the carboxyl group or carboxyl radical
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Carbonyl

A compound containing metal combined with carbon monoxide
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Carbonyl

Relating to or containing the carbonyl group
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are carbonyl groups present in biological molecules?

Yes, especially in sugars and certain proteins.
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How does a carbonyl group affect a molecule's properties?

It affects the molecule's polarity, solubility, and reactivity.
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What is a carboxyl group?

A functional group consisting of a carbonyl and a hydroxyl group (COOH).
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Can carbonyl groups participate in chemical reactions?

Yes, they are reactive sites in many organic reactions.
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Where are carbonyl groups commonly found?

In aldehydes and ketones, as part of their molecular structure.
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What role do carboxyl groups play in amino acids?

They contribute to the acid-base properties and protein structure.
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What is a carbonyl group?

A functional group in organic chemistry with a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom.
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What types of compounds contain carboxyl groups?

Mainly carboxylic acids, but also in amino acids and fatty acids.
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How do carboxyl groups behave in water?

They can ionize, releasing hydrogen ions and forming carboxylate ions.
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Are carbonyl groups found in fatty acids?

No, fatty acids typically contain carboxyl groups.
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How does the presence of a carboxyl group affect solubility?

It generally increases solubility in water due to polarity.
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Are carboxyl groups important in biochemistry?

Yes, particularly in the structure and function of proteins and fatty acids.
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How do carbonyl groups influence boiling points?

They increase boiling points due to increased polarity.
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What is the significance of carboxyl groups in metabolism?

They are crucial in energy production and biosynthesis pathways.
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What is the difference between carbonyl and carboxyl groups?

A carbonyl is C=O; a carboxyl includes this plus an OH group (COOH).
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Do carbonyl groups make a compound acidic?

No, that property is specific to carboxyl groups.
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Can carboxyl groups form salts?

Yes, when they lose an H+ ion and react with bases.
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Do carbonyl groups participate in hydrogen bonding?

Yes, they can engage in hydrogen bonding due to the oxygen atom.
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Can carbonyl and carboxyl groups be modified chemically?

Yes, both can undergo various chemical reactions.
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Can carbonyl and carboxyl groups be identified spectroscopically?

Yes, using techniques like infrared spectroscopy.
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Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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