Compiler Error CS1656

 

Updated: July 20, 2015

For the latest documentation on Visual Studio 2017 RC, see Visual Studio 2017 RC Documentation.

Cannot assign to 'variable' because it is a 'read-only variable type'

This error occurs when an assignment to variable occurs in a read-only context. Read-only contexts include foreach iteration variables, using variables, and fixed variables. To resolve this error, avoid assignments to a statement variable in using blocks, foreach statements, and fixed statements.

The following example generates error CS1656 because it tries to replace complete elements of a collection inside a foreach loop. One way to work around the error is to change the foreach loop to a for loop. Another way, not shown here, is to modify the members of the existing element; this is possible with classes, but not with structs.

using System;  
using System.Collections;  
using System.Collections.Generic;  
using System.Text;  
  
namespace CS1656_2  
{  
  
    class Book  
    {  
        public string Title;  
        public string Author;  
        public double Price;  
        public Book(string t, string a, double p)  
        {  
            Title=t;  
            Author=a;  
            Price=p;  
  
        }  
    }  
  
    class Program  
    {  
        private List<Book> list;  
        static void Main(string[] args)  
        {  
            Program prog = new Program();  
            prog.list = new List<Book>();  
            prog.list.Add(new Book ("The C# Programming Language",  
                                    "Hejlsberg, Wiltamuth, Golde",  
                                     29.95));  
            prog.list.Add(new Book ("The C++ Programming Language",  
                                    "Stroustrup",  
                                     29.95));  
            prog.list.Add(new Book ("The C Programming Language",  
                                    "Kernighan, Ritchie",  
                                    29.95));  
            foreach(Book b in prog.list)  
            {  
                // Cannot modify an entire element in a foreach loop   
                // even with reference types.  
                // Use a for or while loop instead  
                if (b.Title == "The C Programming Language")  
                    // Cannot assign to 'b' because it is a 'foreach   
                    // iteration variable'  
                    b = new Book("Programming Windows, 5th Ed.", "Petzold", 29.95); //CS1656  
            }  
  
            //With a for loop you can modify elements  
            //for(int x = 0; x < prog.list.Count; x++)  
            //{  
            //    if(prog.list[x].Title== "The C Programming Language")  
            //        prog.list[x] = new Book("Programming Windows, 5th Ed.", "Petzold", 29.95);  
            //}  
            //foreach(Book b in prog.list)  
            //    Console.WriteLine(b.Title);  
  
        }  
    }  
}  

The following sample demonstrates how CS1656 can be generated in other contexts besides a foreach loop:

// CS1656.cs  
// compile with: /unsafe  
using System;  
  
class C : IDisposable  
{  
    public void Dispose() { }  
}  
  
class CMain  
{  
    unsafe public static void Main()  
    {  
        using (C c = new C())  
        {  
            // Cannot assign to 'c' because it is a 'using variable'  
            c = new C(); // CS1656  
        }  
  
        int[] ary = new int[] { 1, 2, 3, 4 };  
        fixed (int* p = ary)  
        {  
            // Cannot assign to 'p' because it is a 'fixed variable'  
            p = null; // CS1656  
        }  
    }  
}  

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