Chapter 11. Declarations

A declaration determines the significance and properties of one or more identifiers. _Static_assert declarations, introduced in C11, are an exception: these static assertions do not declare identifiers, but only instruct the compiler to test whether a constant expression is nonzero. Static assertions are only classed as declarations because of their syntax.

In other declarations, the identifiers you declare can be the names of objects, functions, types, or other things, such as enumeration constants. Identifiers of objects and functions can have various types and scopes. The compiler needs to know all of these characteristics of an identifier before you can use it in an expression. For this reason, each translation unit must contain a declaration of each identifier used in it.

Labels used as the destination of goto statements may be placed before any statement. These identifiers are declared implicitly where they occur. All other identifiers require explicit declaration before their first use, either outside of all functions or at the beginning of a block. Beginning with C99, declarations may also appear after statements within a block.

After you have declared an identifier, you can use it in expressions until the end of its scope. The identifiers of objects and functions can have file or block scope (see “Identifier Scope”).

There are several different kinds of declarations:

  • Declarations that only declare a structure, union, or enumeration tag, or the ...

Get C in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.