Through examples discovered in the sections on acids and also bases proton-transfer processes are broken into two theoretical steps: (1) donation the a proton by one acid, and also (2) acceptance of a proton by a base. (Water offered as the base in the mountain example and as the acid in the base instance ). The hypothetical steps space useful since they make it easy to check out what types is left after an mountain donated a proton and what species is created when a base welcomed a proton. Us shall use hypothetical steps or half-equations in this section, but you must bear in psychic that totally 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 type of other species, we have the right to write the half-equation:

< extNH_4^+ ightarrow extH^+ + extNH_3>

The submicroscopic representations listed below show the donation that the proton of ammonium. The remove of this proton outcomes in NH3, i beg your pardon is quickly seen in ~ the submicroscopic level.

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But NH3 is just one of 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. One more example, this time beginning with a weak base, is noted by fluoride ion:

< extF^- + extH^+ ightarrow extHF>

The submicroscopic representation above shows how the addition of a proton come fluoride counter a weak base (F- in green) right into a weak acid (HF).

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The situation just described for NH4+ and NH3 or because that F– and HF applies to every acids and also bases. At any time an mountain donates a proton, the acid changes into a base, and whenever a basic accepts a proton, an acid is formed. An acid and also a basic which differ only by the visibility or lack of a proton are referred to as a conjugate acid-base pair. Thus NH3 is dubbed the conjugate base of NH4+, and NH4+ is the conjugate acid of NH3. Similarly, HF is the conjugate acid of F–, and also F– the conjugate base of HF.


The use of conjugate acid-base pairs enables us to do a very an easy statement around relative strengths of acids and also bases. The stronger an acid, the weaker that conjugate base, and, whereas the stronger a base, the weaker its conjugate acid.

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

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altis ch3- a strong base