The monosaccharides are the basis of carbohydrate chemistry since all carbohydrates are either monosaccharides or are converted into monosaccharides on hydrolysis.
The monosaccharides are polyhydroxy aldehydes or polyhydroxy ketones. There are, therefore, two main classes of monosaccharides.
1. the Aldoses, which contain an aldehyde group
2. the Ketoses, which contain a ketone group
The aldoses and ketoses are further divided into sub-groups on the basis of the number of carbon atoms in their molecules, as trioses, tetroses, pentoses, hexoses, etc.
To classify a monosaccharide completely, it is necessary to specify both, the type of the carbonyl group and the number of carbon atoms present in the molecule.
Thus monosaccharides are generally referred to as aldotrioses, aldotetroses, aldopentoses, aldohexoses, ketohexoses, etc.
The aldoses and ketoses may be represented by the following general formulas.
Glucose and fructose are specific examples of an aldose and a ketose.