Alcohols and Phenols Introduction

Hydroxy Derivatives

When one or more hydrogen atoms of a hydrocarbon are replaced by an equal number of hydroxyl groups (−OH group), the compound is called a hydroxy derivative.

The suffix −ol represents hydroxy derivatives.

Hydrocarbon and Hydroxy Derivative

Distinction between hydroxy derivatives and hydrocarbons : Hydrocarbon
Distinction between hydroxy derivatives and hydrocarbons : Alcohol


Aliphatic (open-chained) hydroxy derivatives are called alcohols.


Example of aliphatic hydroxy derivative : Propanol


Example of alcohol : Hexane-1,6-diol


In phenols, the hydroxyl group of a hydroxy derivative compound is directly attached to benzene.

Phenol (Hydroxybenzene)



If the hydroxyl group is attached to a carbon chain which is attached to an aromatic ring, the compound comes under the category of alcohols.


Alcohol example : 2-phenylethanol


Ethanol (CH3CH2OH) and normal phenol (C6H5OH) are used as antiseptics. Some alcohols and phenols are used in the manufacture of perfumes and flavors. For more theory, please refer to your book or wikipedia.

Nomenclature of Alcohols and Phenols

Refer to nomenclature of OH derivatives. If you want to learn nomenclature from the very basics, refer to nomenclature introduction.