IUPAC names nitriles by adding the suffix -nitrile to the name of the alkane with the same number of carbons.

nitriles nomenclature1

[1] Methanenitrile

[2] Ethanenitrile

[3] Ethanedinitrile

[4] 3-Methylbutanenitrile

a) From haloalkanes: Nitriles can be prepared from haloalkanes, by SN2 processes. The reaction gives good performance with primary and secondary substrates, the tertiary ones are preferentially eliminated, forming alkenes.


Nitriles hydrolyze in acidic media, under heating, becoming carboxylic acids and ammonium salts. The hydrolysis of nitriles is an irreversible process.


The nitriles are hydrolyzed with aqueous soda, under heating, to form carboxylates and ammonia.


The nitriles react with organometallic lithium or magnesium, to form ketones, after an acid hydrolysis step.


Nitriles present hydrogens to acids that can be removed with strong bases, forming nitrile enolates. These hydrogens have a pKa of 25.


Lithium aluminum hydride reduces nitriles to amines. The reaction is carried out in ether medium, followed by acid hydrolysis. reduccion-nitrilos-aminas