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General Chemistry Topics

Views: 23     Author: Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.     Publish Time: 2020-05-14      Origin: ThoughtCo.

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General Chemistry Topics

By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Updated October 28, 2019

General chemistry is the study of matter, energy, and the interactions between the two. The main topics in chemistry include acids and bases, atomic structure, the periodic table, chemical bonds, and chemical reactions.

Acids, Bases, and pH


Acids, bases, and pH are concepts that apply to aqueous solutions (solutions in water). pH refers to the hydrogen ion concentration, or the ability of a species to donate/accept protons or electrons. Acids and bases reflect the relative availability of hydrogen ions or proton/electron donors or acceptors. Acid-base reactions are extremely important in living cells and industrial processes.

Atomic Structure


Atoms are composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons and neutrons form the nucleus of each atom, with electrons moving around this core. The study of atomic structure involves understanding the composition of atoms, isotopes, and ions.



Electrochemistry is primarily concerned with oxidation-reduction reactions or redox reactions. These reactions produce ions and may be harnessed to produce electrodes and batteries. Electrochemistry is used to predict whether a reaction will occur and in which direction electrons will flow.

Units and Measurement


Chemistry is a science that relies on experimentation, which often involves taking measurements and performing calculations based on those measurements. It is important to be familiar with the units of measurement and the various ways of converting between different units.



Thermochemistry is the area of general chemistry that relates to thermodynamics. It is sometimes called physical chemistry. Thermochemistry involves the concepts of entropy, enthalpy, Gibbs free energy, standard state conditions, and energy diagrams. It also includes the study of temperature, calorimetry, endothermic reactions, and exothermic reactions.

Chemical Bonding


Atoms and molecules join together through ionic and covalent bonding. Related topics include electronegativity, oxidation numbers, and Lewis electron dot structure.

Periodic Table


The periodic table is a systematic way of organizing the chemical elements. The elements exhibit periodic properties that can be used to predict their characteristics, including the likelihood that they will form compounds and participate in chemical reactions.

Equations and Stoichiometry


It is important to learn how to balance chemical equations and how different factors affect the rate and yield of chemical reactions.

Solutions and Mixtures


An important part of general chemistry is learning about different types of solutions and mixtures and how to calculate concentrations. This category includes topics such as colloids, suspensions, and dilutions.





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