Can I write the formula of Acetic acid as HCOOCH₃ or COOHCH₃ insted of CH₃COOH would they represent the same compound with same covalent bond?

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    $\begingroup$ No, they wouldn't. The rules are so trivial they almost never get explained in the textbooks, but still they are not immediately obvious from the formula alone. COOHCH3 makes no sense at all, and HCOOCH3 is a different compound. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 19:42
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    $\begingroup$ $\ce{CH3COOH}$ is an acid called acetic acid or ethanoic acid. This is the main constituent of vinegar. $\ce{HCOOCH3}$ is a rarely written formula for a volatil liquid called methyl formate, boiling at 31.5°C, which has a not too disagreeable odor and can be synthesized in the lab. $\endgroup$
    – Maurice
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ Partly related: My answer to a different question $\endgroup$
    – Loong
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 20:50
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    $\begingroup$ Related (possibly duplicate): chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/33135/… $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 2:51

1 Answer 1


$\ce{HCOOCH3}$ would likely be rendered as $\ce{H-C(O)-O-CH3}$, the lone hydrogen atom is atttached to the carbonyl group instead of the methyl group being there -- in other words, methyl formate instead of acetic acid.

I suppose that $\ce{HOCOCH3}$ could be interpreted as having the methyl group and hydroxyl group attached to the carbonyl, but you're better off sticking with the widely used ordering $\ce{CH3COOH}$.


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