Alcohols are the family of compounds that contain one or more hydroxyl (-OH) groups attached to a single bonded alkane. Alcohols are represented by the general formula -OH. The term alcohol originally referred to the primary alcohol ethanol (ethyl alcohol), which is used as a drug and is the main alcohol present in alcoholic beverages. Alcohols are important in organic chemistry because they can be converted to and from many other types of compounds. Reactions with alcohols fall into two different categories. Reactions can cleave the R-O bond or they can cleave the O-H bond. An important class of alcohols, of which methanol and ethanol are the simplest members, includes all compounds for which the general formula is CnH2n+1OH.
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