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QUESTION

# Why isn't carbon monoxide just called carbon oxide?

The name carbon oxide is too vague. Carbon and oxygen can bond to form more than one possible compound.

For example: CO = carbon monoxide CO_2 = carbon dioxide

The name needs to tell us the number of oxygen atoms in the molecules of this compound.

By the way, if molecules of the compound contain only one atom of the first element listed - no prefix is needed for that element. If the first element listed has more than one atom in the molecule, a prefix will be used.

Examples: NO = nitrogen monoxide NO_2 = nitrogen dioxide N_2O_4 = dinitrogen monoxide

Good luck!