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C Constant Expressions

A constant expression is evaluated at compile time, not run time, and can be used in any place that a constant can be used. The constant expression must evaluate to a constant that is in the range of representable values for that type. The operands of a constant expression can be integer constants, character constants, floating-point constants, enumeration constants, type casts, sizeof expressions, and other constant expressions.


constant-expression :
conditional-expression :
logical-OR-expression ? expression : conditional-expression
expression :
expression , assignment-expression
assignment-expression :
unary-expression assignment-operator assignment-expression
assignment-operator : one of
= *= /= %= += –= <<= >>= &= ^= |=

The nonterminals for struct declarator, enumerator, direct declarator, direct-abstract declarator, and labeled statement contain the constant-expression nonterminal.

An integral constant expression must be used to specify the size of a bit-field member of a structure, the value of an enumeration constant, the size of an array, or the value of a case constant.

Constant expressions used in preprocessor directives are subject to additional restrictions. Consequently, they are known as "restricted constant expressions." A restricted constant expression cannot contain sizeof expressions, enumeration constants, type casts to any type, or floating-type constants. It can, however, contain the special constant expression defined(identifier).

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