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Naming acids is much different than the naming of general compounds. In both, however, the charges of the metallic ion and the nonmetallic ion are required to add up to zero. First, let's split the vast number of acids into two separate groups: those with oxygen, and those without.

All acids that don't have oxygen in them are required to carry the prefix "hydro-". The element that takes the second position is followed by the suffix "ic."

Examples:
HCl = hydrochloric acid
H2S = hydrosulfuric acid

Now on to the larger group of acids that contain oxygen. In order to name the acid, you must first look at the polyatomic ion attached to the hydrogen molecule(s). I'll use the acid "HNO3" to illustrate the process.

NO3 is nitrate. If you have a polyatomic that ends in "ate", the suffix is changed to "ic." Therefore, HNO3 = nitric acid.

If we take one oxygen atom off of the nitrate (and make it NO2), the suffix is changed to "ous". Therefore, HNO2 = nitrous acid.

If we take two oxygen atoms off of the nitrate (and make it NO), the prefix "hypo" is added along with the suffix "ous." HNO = hyponitrous acid.

If we add one oxygen atom to the original nitrate (and make it and make it NO4), the prefix of "per" is added along with the suffix "ic." HNO4 = pernitric acid.

CAUTION: Don't name acids by how many oxygen atoms they have, name them by how many more or less they have than the acid with the "ate" ending.

Hope this hasn't been too confusing!

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