# Reaction of nitro compounds with strong alkali?

Why does a primary and a secondary nitro compound behave as an acid in the presence of strong alkali whereas tertiary nitro compounds do not? Can anyone explain it with reactions?

• How many $\alpha$ hydrogens are there on a tertiary nitro compound? – bon Jan 29 '16 at 13:04
• there is no alpha hydrogen in tertiary nitro compound – Mukilan S C Jan 29 '16 at 13:10
• There is your answer then. – bon Jan 29 '16 at 13:10

In order for a compound to act as an acid, it must have a proton which can be abstracted. As you correctly pointed out, tertiary nitro compounds have no $$\alpha$$ hydrogens and therefore they cannot be deprotonated at the $$\alpha$$ position.
Of course, they could be deprotonated elsewhere, but if the other groups are just alkyl groups then this isn't really feasible as they have such a high $$\mathrm{p}K_\mathrm{a}$$.