Through examples found in the sections on acids and bases proton-transfer processes are broken into two theoretical steps: (1) donation the a proton by one acid, and (2) accept of a proton by a base. (Water served as the basic in the acid example and also as the mountain in the base instance ). The theoretical steps are useful since they make it basic to view what types is left ~ an acid donated a proton and what species is formed when a base welcomed a proton. Us shall use theoretical steps or half-equations in this section, but you must bear in psychic that free protons never ever actually exist in aqueous solution.

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Suppose we first consider a weak acid, the ammonium ion. When it donates a proton to any other species, we can write the half-equation:

< extNH_4^+ ightarrow extH^+ + extNH_3>

The submicroscopic representations below show the donation the the proton the ammonium. The removal of this proton outcomes in NH3, which is conveniently seen at the submicroscopic level.

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But NH3 is among the compound we recognize as a weak base. In other words, once it donates a proton, the weak mountain NH4+ is transformed right into a weak basic NH3. Another example, this time beginning with a weak base, is detailed by fluoride ion:

< extF^- + extH^+ ightarrow extHF>

The submicroscopic representation over shows just how the enhancement of a proton come fluoride counter a weak base (F- in green) right into a weak mountain (HF).

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The case just defined for NH4+ and also NH3 or for F– and HF uses to every acids and bases. Anytime an acid donates a proton, the acid alters into a base, and also whenever a base accepts a proton, an mountain is formed. One acid and a base which differ just by the presence or lack of a proton are called a conjugate acid-base pair. For this reason NH3 is dubbed the conjugate base of NH4+, and NH4+ is the conjugate mountain of NH3. Similarly, HF is the conjugate mountain of F–, and F– the conjugate base of HF.


The usage of conjugate acid-base pairs permits us to do a very basic statement about relative strengths of acids and also bases. The more powerful an acid, the weaker that is conjugate base, and, vice versa, the stronger a base, the weaker that conjugate acid.

TABLE (PageIndex1):Important Conjugate Acid-Base Pairs.

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