Ethers are a class of organic compounds characterized by an oxygen atom bonded to two alkyl or aryl groups. Ethers are similar in structure to alcohols, and both ethers and alcohols are similar in structure to water. In an alcohol one hydrogen atom of water molecule is replaced by an alkyl group, whereas in ether both hydrogen atoms are replaced by alkyl or aryl groups. They have the general formula R-O-R′, where R and R′ represent the alkyl or aryl groups. Ethers can again be classified into two varieties if the alkyl groups are the same on both sides of the oxygen atom, then it is simple or symmetrical ether, whereas if they are different, the ethers are called mixed or unsymmetrical ethers. Ethers are common in organic chemistry and even more prevalent in biochemistry, as they are common linkages in carbohydrates and lignin.
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