Substitution Reactions

By James Ashenhurst

Why the SN2 Reaction Is Powerful

Last updated: January 23rd, 2020 |

SN2 Reaction Examples To Give Alcohols, Ethers, Thiols, Sulfies, Alkynes, and More.

Having gone through the mechanism of the SN2 reaction, let’s take a second and look at why it might be useful.

In nucleophilic substitution reactions, we’re trading a carbon-(leaving group) bond for a carbon-(nucleophile) bond.

If we choose a good leaving group – i.e. an appropriately weak base – we can use this reaction with a *large* variety of nucleophiles.

The SN2 Reaction Is Incredibly Powerful And Can Be Used To Build A Large Number Of Functional Groups From Alkyl Halides

I could write many more words about this, but instead, here’s a table. Look at all the different functional groups you can make from just this one reaction!


table of products of the sn2 reaction from reaction of primary and secondary alkyl halides with various nucleophiles giving alcohols ethers thiols etc

Note – some of these substitution reactions work better than others,  especially on secondary carbons – depending on conditions, elimination reactions can start to compete when strong bases are used. We’ll get there!

Next Post – The SN1 Mechanism


Comment section

3 thoughts on “Why the SN2 Reaction Is Powerful

  1. I really liked your page,especially in finding priority order of functional groups.These are well mentioned with their use.

  2. You explanation is immaculate, logical and orderly. It meets my need in organic chemistry. Thanks. Do you have a youtube channel?

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