How to distinguish between 3 alcohol types explain please

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  1. Look to the structure of the alcohol. Alcohol types are determined based on how many carbons are attacked to the carbon bearing the hydroxile. Primary will have no other carbons, secondary will have one, tertiary will have two.

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  2. primary is RCH2OH
    secondary is R2CHOH
    tertiary is R3COH
    Where R is any carbon containing group such as CH3, C2H5, propyl,, etc.

    I disagree with Jonathan's answer. For example, CH3CH2OH is a primary alcohol BUT it has another C attached to the C bearing the OH. Same problem with his secondary and tertiary examples.

    For whatever it's worth, I used this as a way of distinguishing alcohols. It isn't the official definition but it was esier for me to count H atoms than visually count the C atoms. Primary alcohols have 2 H atoms attached to the carbon bearing the OH group, secondary alcohols have two H atoms on that C and tertiary have no H atoms on that C.

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