What is the difference between C constants and C literals?
TL;DR: In C, literals (of which there are only string literals) are lvalues; we can take their address. All other “literals” (numbers, characters) are constants in C; this means they are rvalues and we cannot take their address.
In languages other than C, I tend to use “constant” and “literal” interchangeably. In C, they mean different things.
// Some constants int i = 5; // `5` is a constant char c = 'x'; // `x` is a constant uint64_t j = 45; // `45` is a constant char * s = NULL; // `NULL` is a constant // Some literals (actually, just string literals) char * str = "hello"; // "hello" is a string literal
A literal is an lvalue: an expression with an address. This is why we have “string literals” and not “string constants”. The string literal is allocated in memory; we can take its address.
A constant is an rvalue: an expression without an address. Numbers and characters are literals. Taking the address of
45 has no meaning.
I wrote this because I felt like it. This post is not associated with my employer.