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Discussion in 'MCAT Study Question Q&A' started by icecoldstar, Aug 1, 2011.
what's the difference???
An intermediate is a short-lived unstable molecule in a reaction. It shows a slight reduction in energy on the reaction coordinate.
A transition state is the transition to a new molecule. It has everything it needs to be the new molecule, and is the highest point on the reaction coordinate.
An intermediate would be something like a carbocation, and a transition state would be the 5-membered carbon complex that forms in an Sn2 reaction.
The above is completely correct. Just to add a tidbit, intermediates can actually be isolated during the course of a reaction, whereas transition states are purely just a state of high energy that cannot be isolated.