Addition reactions are limited to chemical compounds that have multiple bonds, such as molecules with carbon–carbon double bonds (alkenes), or with triple bonds (alkynes), and compounds that have rings, which are also considered points of unsaturation. Molecules containing carbon—hetero double bonds like carbonyl (C=O) groups, or imine (C=N) groups, can undergo addition, as they too have double-bond character.
There are two main types of polar addition reactions: electrophilic addition and nucleophilic addition. Two non-polar addition reactions exist as well, called free-radical addition and cycloadditions. Addition reactions are also encountered in polymerizations and called addition polymerization.