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I need to clarify some terminology for an intro to organic chem class. We are studying substitution and elimination reactions and it has not been made clear what exactly these terms describe. For instance, in the bottom example of this image I have seen CH3OH on both the top and bottom of the arrow. Does this imply that it is the nucleophile/base when it is on top, and a solvent when it is on the bottom?

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  • $\begingroup$ Your assignment (top/bottom) seems to work in the first and the case, but breaks in the others. $\endgroup$ – Klaus-Dieter Warzecha Nov 16 '16 at 5:17
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    $\begingroup$ The "main" reagent is usually put on top of the arrow. However, this doesnt mean that you should disregard solvents as these may favor some reagents, create/prevent side products. If it is written, you should consider it. $\endgroup$ – CoffeeIsLife Nov 16 '16 at 8:45
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Okay in the question i am only seeing CH30H that simply means that methanol is acting both as a base and a solvent.

  • Since methanol is acting both as a solvent and a reagent, it will undergo E1 reaction as you will know that it is a polar protic solvent and if the solvent was like **water(polar) or DMSO ** then it would follow SN1 and SN2 respectively and *CH30 (-) * would act as the nucleophile. Thus solvents play an important role in understanding the type of reaction it would undergo. So it is really important to understand the solvent. As per as i know there are no such conventions..( That solvent is written below and reagent/base at the top). If only one reagent is given it is acting as a both solvent and a base. I would like to tell another thing that sometime we are mistaken a reagent to be a solvent : DMSO is often used as a oxidizing agent in presence of phosphoric acid. We mostly confuse it and hold phosphoric acid as the oxidizing agent.
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    $\begingroup$ Please take a second to read our meta post on formatting. $\endgroup$ – ringo Jan 27 '19 at 7:10
  • $\begingroup$ @ringo Thank you so much, its really nice that you gave me such a useful link. $\endgroup$ – Sreetama ghosh hazra Jan 27 '19 at 11:58

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