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How to Name Ionic Compounds

How many elements are present in your compound?




That's not a compound! That's an element! Just name it goofball :).


Two elements means you have a binary ionic compound. Super easy!

On to Step 1

First, you need to name the METAL CATION. It is usually the first element.

For example, in NaCl, the metal is Na. Na is sodium, so the first part of the name is SODIUM.

Take me to Step 2!

Now, name the nonmetal. This is usually the second element.

In our NaCl example, the nonmetal is Cl, chlorine. Nonmetals get a name mod - change the ending to -ide! So our nonmetal is now CHLORIDE.

Let's Finish It!

Now you will combine the METAL and modified NONMETAL names!

For our NaCl example, I now combine SODIUM with CHLORIDE to make SODIUM CHLORIDE. And it is done!!


Awesome! You have a polyatomic ion present! Luckily, these are just as easy to identify and even easier to name!

Let's start!

The first thing we need to do is identify the polyatomic ion. If you memorized these, then just look for the one you recognize. If you didn't, then you'll need to compare your compound to the polyatomic ion chart to find out which one is there.


First, find the POSITIVE ion. This will either be a metal or a positive polyatomic ion. Name it with no changes.

For example, in NaOH, the metal is Na, which we know is SODIUM from the periodic table.

Go to Step 2

Now, identify the nonmetal or negative polyatomic ion. If it's a nonmetal, change the ending to -ide. If it's a polyatomic ion, just name it.

In our NaOH example, the negative polyatomic ion is HYDROXIDE. Because it poly, we just name it.

Let's finish!

Now, just bring everything together!

In our example, we now name the metal followed by the polyatomic ion. So, SODIUM and HYDROXIDE come together to form SODIUM HYDROXIDE.