C - switch statement

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A switch statement allows a variable to be tested for equality against a list of values. Each value is called a case, and the variable being switched on is checked for each switch case.

Syntax:

The syntax for a switch statement in C programming language is as follows:

switch(expression){
    case constant-expression  :
       statement(s);
       break; /* optional */
    case constant-expression  :
       statement(s);
       break; /* optional */
  
    /* you can have any number of case statements */
    default : /* Optional */
       statement(s);
}

The following rules apply to a switch statement:

  • The expression used in a switch statement must have an integral or enumerated type, or be of a class type in which the class has a single conversion function to an integral or enumerated type.

  • You can have any number of case statements within a switch. Each case is followed by the value to be compared to and a colon.

  • The constant-expression for a case must be the same data type as the variable in the switch, and it must be a constant or a literal.

  • When the variable being switched on is equal to a case, the statements following that case will execute until a break statement is reached.

  • When a break statement is reached, the switch terminates, and the flow of control jumps to the next line following the switch statement.

  • Not every case needs to contain a break. If no break appears, the flow of control will fall through to subsequent cases until a break is reached.

  • A switch statement can have an optional default case, which must appear at the end of the switch. The default case can be used for performing a task when none of the cases is true. No break is needed in the default case.

Flow Diagram:

switch statement in C

Example:

#include <stdio.h>
 
int main ()
{
   /* local variable definition */
   char grade = 'B';

   switch(grade)
   {
   case 'A' :
      printf("Excellent!\n" );
      break;
   case 'B' :
   case 'C' :
      printf("Well done\n" );
      break;
   case 'D' :
      printf("You passed\n" );
      break;
   case 'F' :
      printf("Better try again\n" );
      break;
   default :
      printf("Invalid grade\n" );
   }
   printf("Your grade is  %c\n", grade );
 
   return 0;
}

When the above code is compiled and executed, it produces the following result:

Well done
Your grade is B


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