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String::Compare Method (String, String)

Compares two specified String objects and returns an integer that indicates their relative position in the sort order.

Namespace:  System
Assembly:  mscorlib (in mscorlib.dll)

static int Compare(
	String^ strA, 
	String^ strB


Type: System::String
The first string to compare.
Type: System::String
The second string to compare.

Return Value

Type: System::Int32
A 32-bit signed integer that indicates the lexical relationship between the two comparands.



Less than zero

strA is less than strB.


strA equals strB.

Greater than zero

strA is greater than strB.

The comparison uses the current culture to obtain culture-specific information such as casing rules and the alphabetic order of individual characters. For example, a culture could specify that certain combinations of characters be treated as a single character, or uppercase and lowercase characters be compared in a particular way, or that the sorting order of a character depends on the characters that precede or follow it.

The comparison is performed using word sort rules. For more information about word, string, and ordinal sorts, see System.Globalization::CompareOptions.

Caution noteCaution

When comparing strings, you should call the Compare method, which requires that you explicitly specify the type of string comparison that the method uses. For more information, see Best Practices for Using Strings in the .NET Framework.

One or both comparands can be nullptr. By definition, any string, including the empty string (""), compares greater than a null reference; and two null references compare equal to each other.

The comparison terminates when an inequality is discovered or both strings have been compared. However, if the two strings compare equal to the end of one string, and the other string has characters remaining, then the string with remaining characters is considered greater. The return value is the result of the last comparison performed.

Unexpected results can occur when comparisons are affected by culture-specific casing rules. For example, in Turkish, the following example yields the wrong results because the file system in Turkish does not use linguistic casing rules for the letter "i" in "file".

static bool IsFileURI(String^ path)
    return (String::Compare(path, 0, "file:", 0, 5, true) == 0);

Compare the path name to "file" using an ordinal comparison. The correct code to do this is as follows:

static bool IsFileURI(String^ path)
    return (String::Compare(path, 0, "file:", 0, 5, StringComparison::OrdinalIgnoreCase) == 0);

In the following example, the ReverseStringComparer class demonstrates how you can evaluate two strings with the Compare method.

using namespace System;
using namespace System::Text;
using namespace System::Collections;

ref class ReverseStringComparer: public IComparer
   virtual int Compare( Object^ x, Object^ y )
      String^ s1 = dynamic_cast<String^>(x);
      String^ s2 = dynamic_cast<String^>(y);

      //negate the return value to get the reverse order
      return  -String::Compare( s1, s2 );


void PrintValues( String^ title, IEnumerable^ myList )
   Console::Write( "{0,10}: ", title );
   StringBuilder^ sb = gcnew StringBuilder;
      IEnumerator^ en = myList->GetEnumerator();
      String^ s;
      while ( en->MoveNext() )
         s = en->Current->ToString();
         sb->AppendFormat(  "{0}, ", s );
   sb->Remove( sb->Length - 2, 2 );
   Console::WriteLine( sb );

void main()
   // Creates and initializes a new ArrayList.
   ArrayList^ myAL = gcnew ArrayList;
   myAL->Add( "Eric" );
   myAL->Add( "Mark" );
   myAL->Add( "Lance" );
   myAL->Add( "Rob" );
   myAL->Add( "Kris" );
   myAL->Add( "Brad" );
   myAL->Add( "Kit" );
   myAL->Add( "Bradley" );
   myAL->Add( "Keith" );
   myAL->Add( "Susan" );

   // Displays the properties and values of the ArrayList.
   Console::WriteLine( "Count: {0}", myAL->Count.ToString() );

   PrintValues( "Unsorted", myAL );

   PrintValues( "Sorted", myAL );

   myAL->Sort( gcnew ReverseStringComparer );
   PrintValues( "Reverse", myAL );

   array<String^>^names = dynamic_cast<array<String^>^>(myAL->ToArray( String::typeid ));

.NET Framework

Supported in: 4, 3.5, 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, 1.0

.NET Framework Client Profile

Supported in: 4, 3.5 SP1

Windows 7, Windows Vista SP1 or later, Windows XP SP3, Windows XP SP2 x64 Edition, Windows Server 2008 (Server Core not supported), Windows Server 2008 R2 (Server Core supported with SP1 or later), Windows Server 2003 SP2

The .NET Framework does not support all versions of every platform. For a list of the supported versions, see .NET Framework System Requirements.