The step in the mechanism for the formation of an ester from an acid and an alcohol are the reverse of the steps for the acid-catalyzed hydrolysis of an ester, the reaction can go in either direction depending on the conditions used. A carboxylic acid does not react with an alcohol unless a strong acid is used as a catalyst, protonation makes the carbonyl group more electrophilic and enables it to react with the alcohol, which is a weak nucleophile.
Illustration 1. Assign a structure to each compound indicated by a letter in the following equations.
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