Many of the reactions involving aldehydes or ketones fall into one of two categories. One set of reactions take place by means of nucleophilic attack upon the electropositive carbonyl carbon. The other set occurs by means of keto-enol tautomerism, a process that exposes an aldehyde or ketone to electrophilic attack at its α-carbon (as in α-halogenation). Aldol condensation, however, belongs to both categories. Aldol condensation occurs with bond formation between the carbonyl carbon of one equivalent of aldehyde or ketone and the α-carbon of another equivalent. Keto-enol tautomerism generates the enolate form from one molecule of the aldehyde or ketone, and the α-carbon of the enolate acts as a nucleophile, forming a bond with the carbonyl carbon of another aldehyde or ketone molecule.
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