Electrophilic Substitution of Anilines

Electrophilic Substitution Reaction of Anilines

An electrophile refers to an electron seeking specie. Thus, electrophilic substitution reaction refers to the reaction in which an electrophile substitutes another electrophile in an organic compound. Anilines undergo the usual electrophilic reactions such as halogenation, nitration and sulphonation. We will discuss them one-by-one, but let’s first understand the behaviour of anilines towards the attack of an electrophile:

  1. The functional group (-NH2) associated with aniline is an electron donating group and hence is very activating towards the electrophilic substitution reaction.
  2. Due to its various resonating structures, there’s an excess of electron or negative charge over ortho- and para- positions of the benzene ring than the meta- position. Thus, anilines are o- and p- directive towards electrophilic substitution reaction.



 In the above reaction when aniline comes in the vicinity of bromine water, then the bromine molecule develops a polarity within itself and bromine with a slightly positive charge acts as an electrophile (electron seeking) and attacks the electron rich ortho and para positions of aniline. A white coloured  precipitate of 2,4,6-tribromoaniline is obtained at room temperature.


Electrophilic substitution

In this reaction, alongside para isomer, the meta isomer is also observed. It is because the aniline molecule gets protonated in acidic medium to become anilinium ion which is meta directing.


Electrophilic substitution

Sulphuric acid reacts vigorously with aniline to form anilinium hydrogen sulphate which on heating produces sulphanilic acid which in turn also has a resonating structure with zwitter ion as shown in the above figure. Zwitter ion basically refers to a dipolar ion in which both positive and negative charge exist and the molecule as a whole is neutral. It is also called as inner salt sometimes. It differs from amphoteric ion in the sense that it has negative and positive charge simultaneously while amphoteric ions are either cationic or anionic at a time.

Anilines don’t undergo Freidel crafts reaction because they react with ferric chloride of the reaction mixture which acts as catalyst for the reaction.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What is electrophilic substitution?

Electrophilic replacement reactions are chemical reactions in which an electrophile displaces in a compound a functional group, which is usually, but not always, an atom of hydrogen. An electrophilic aliphatic substitution reaction is the other predominant form of electrophilic replacement reaction.

Is halogenation electrophilic substitution?

In organic chemistry, a type of electrophilic aromatic substitution is electrophilic aromatic halogenation. Typical of aromatic compounds, this organic reaction is a very useful tool for adding substituents to an aromatic scheme.

Which of the following is most reactive towards aniline?

An atom of nitrogen holds a positive charge. This reduces the density of benzene electrons. The electron density on the benzene ring is thus optimum in aniline. Aniline is thus the most sensitive to electrophilic aromatic substitution.

What is aniline acetylation?

A primary amine and essential in nature is aniline or phenylamine. Aniline refers to the formation of Acetanilide by nucleophilic replacement reaction with acetic anhydride and the reaction is called acetylation. Aniline serves as the nuclepohile in this reaction and acetic anhydride group acyl (CH3CO-) acts as the electrophile.

How do you make an aniline Acetanilide?

Acetanilide is prepared from aniline when in the presence of zinc dust, it reacts with acetic anhydride/glacial acetic acid. Under anhydrous condition, a combination of aniline, glacial acetic acid, acetic anhydride and zinc dust is refluxed and then the mixture is dumped into ice-cold water to precipitate acetic anhydride.

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