The characteristic chemical behavior of carboxylic acids is, of course, determined by their functional group, carboxyl, –COOH. This group is made up of a carbonyl group  (C = O) and a hydroxyl group (–OH). As we shall see, it is the –OH that actually undergoes nearly every reaction. Loss of H+, or replacement by another group but it does so in a way that is possible only because of the effect of the C = O.

Carboxylic acids can also show various types of reactions.

(i)  Removal of H+ (due to cleavage of O – H bond) by reaction with a base (at ‘a’ above)

(ii) C – O bond breaks at b (by PCl5, PCl3, SOCl2, NH3/D)

(iii) Nucleophilic attack at point (c) in carboxyl carbon (Ester formation)

Reaction in which OH is replaced by ¾NH2, Cl is SN type

(iv)  Halogenation at a  – C by P/Br2 at point d (Hell – Volhard Zelinsky reaction)

(v) Oxidation of a – methylene group by SeO2

Some reactions are summarized below:

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