Video: Recalling the Meaning of the -ate Suffix

Besides sulfur, which element is present in the sulfate anion?

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Video Transcript

Besides sulfur, which element is present in the sulfate anion?

The word sulfate is made up of two parts, “sulf” plus “ate.” It should come as no surprise that the sulf part derives from sulfur. But then again, the question already told us that sulfate contains sulfur. It’s the “ate” part we really need to focus on. The suffix “ate” can be read like the most common oxygen-containing anion of as in the most common oxygen-containing anion of sulfur. Another word for oxygen-containing anion is an oxyanion.

This begs the question, what is the most common oxygen-containing anion of sulfur? Here it is, the sulfate anion. It’s found in compounds such as sulfuric acid or iron(II) sulfate. We’ve accounted for the presence of sulfur. So the other element present in the sulfate anion is oxygen. And we could’ve answered this just by looking at the definition of “ate” since that tells us that the anion must contain oxygen.

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