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Introduction

The most important thing as you study this chapter is not to be overwhelmed by the quantity of reactions in the chapter. On the surface, they may appear to be quite different. However, as you study them you will see that they all follow the same rule: a group that can accept and share a pair of electrons adds to one of the sp2 carbons of the alkene, and a group that has a pair of electrons it is willing to share adds to the other sp2 carbon. The second most important thing is to solve as many of the problems in the book that you can find time for. Solving problems gives you important feedback to see if you are really understanding the material.

Don't make the mistake of memorizing the product of each reaction. Instead, each time you encounter a reaction, ask yourself: “Why is this the product that is formed?” If you study this way, by the time you finish the chapter you will be able to determine easily the product of any alkene or alkyne reaction.

When you study the reactions of compounds with a carbon–carbon triple bond in the second half of the chapter, you see that these reactions are very similar to the reactions of compounds that have a carbon–carbon double bond (first half of the chapter). If, however, the alkyne has its triple bond at the end of the chain, it has "acidic" properties that alkenes do not have. (Acidic is in quotes because the compounds are not really acidic, they are just acidic compared to most other compounds with carbon–hydrogen bonds).This means that you have to revisit some of the material you learned about acids and bases in Chapter 2.

Each year I have one or two students who decide that it is going to be a lot easier to memorize everything than to take the time to really understand what is going on. On the first couple of tests, these students do very well and, therefore, become convinced that memorization is the way to go. And then all of a sudden—about in the middle of the course—they fall apart. Have they stopped studying? No, they are still trying very hard; they have just run out of memory.




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