The term "monosaccharides," as commonly used, refers to hexoses. It applies equally well, however, to any other sugar-like substance which either occurs naturally or results from the decomposition of more complex carbohydrates, and which cannot be further broken down without destroying its characteristic aldehyde-alcohol groups and sugar-like properties.
All such monosaccharides, being alcohol-aldehydes, can easily be reduced to the corresponding polyatomic alcohols, containing the same number of carbon atoms as the original monosaccharides, each with one OH group attached to it. All aldose monosaccharides are converted, by gentle oxidation, into the corresponding monobasic acid, having a COOH group in the place of the original CHO group. Further oxidation either changes the alcoholic groups into COOH groups, producing polybasic acids, or breaks up the chain. When ketose monosaccharides are submitted to similar oxidation processes, they are broken down into shorter chain compounds.