Abstract Computations were carried out by employing the RHF and density functional theory (DFT) methods to investigate the geometries, atomic charges, harmonic vibrational frequencies for the 1,3-dithiole-2-thione (DTT), 1,3-dithiole-2-one (DTO), 1,3-dioxole-2-thione (DOT) and 1,3-dioxole-2-one (DOO) molecules and their radical cations. The geometrical parameters and atomic charges on various atomic sites of the DTT and DOT molecules and their radical cations suggest extended conjugation in these systems. Contrary to this, for the DOO + and DTO + ions there is no evidence in favour of such conjugation, however, the neutral molecules exhibit some conjugation. Harmonic forced field and vibrational mode calculations provided convincing theoretical evidence for the reassignment of some fundamental vibrational modes for all the four molecules. In going from the neutral species to the charged ions for all the four cases the C C stretching frequency is found to decrease drastically. The C S stretching frequency reduces drastically for the DTT and DOT molecules as compared to their radical cations whereas the C O stretching frequency is found to increase in going from the neutral molecule to its radical cation for the DOO and DTO molecules. The ring stretching mode with a 1 symmetry and C C and C O/S stretching modes in these molecules appear to help in conversion of neutral molecule into respective radical cation and neighbouring radical cation into respective neutral molecule. Thus, there appears the feasibility of stretching vibrational mode coupling with electron transfer.