Formaldehyde is sterically less hindered than 2-chloroethanal and inductiv effects also support a greater reactivity of formaldehyde over the later.

However my textbook states that the reactivity of 2-chloroethanal is greater than that of formaldehyde towards nucleophilic addition Why so?

  • $\begingroup$ If you are thinking of formaldehyde as isolated H2CO then this is where your error lies. Depending on which solvent the reaction is in, formaldehyde is a polymeric species $\endgroup$ – Waylander Mar 17 at 17:50

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