By the action of dehydrating agents they are converted into aldehydes or ketones.
In the presence of a dehydrating agent (such as acetic anhydride), it combines with aldehydes to form compounds of the type R CH: C(COOH) 2, or their decomposition products (formed by loss of C02) R CH: CH COOH.
Taking as types hydrogen, hydrochloric acid, water and ammonia, he postulated that all organic compounds were referable to these four forms: the hydrogen type included hydrocarbons, aldehydes and ketones; the hydrochloric acid type, the chlorides, bromides and iodides; the water type, the alcohols, ethers, monobasic acids, acid anhydrides, and the analogous sulphur compounds; and the ammonia type, the amines, acid-amides, and the analogous phosphorus and arsenic compounds.
Compounds containing the group - CH: O are known as aldehydes (q.v.), while the group >C: O (sometimes termed the carbonyl or keto group) characterizes the ketones (q.v.).