Strings in C

Strings in C - NerdyElectronics

In C programming, Strings are defined as an array of characters or a sequence of characters terminated with a null character ‘\0‘.  When the compiler encounters a sequence of characters enclosed in the double quotation marks, it appends a null character \0 at the end by default.NE_stringFor example –

char c[]="Nerdy E";

Below is the Memory diagram for the above string –

string arrangement

Declaration of Strings in C

There are two ways to declare a string in c language.

  1. By char array
  2. By string literal

By Char Array

Lets take an example –

            char ch[10]={‘N’‘e’‘r’‘d’‘y’‘ ‘‘E’‘\0’};

Strings - array_memory_layout

While declaring string, size is not mandatory. So we can write the above code as given below:

char ch[]={‘N’‘e’‘r’‘d’‘y’‘ ‘‘E’‘\0’};

By string literal

Lets see an example of declaring by string literal –

char ch[]=”Nerdy E”;


In such case, ‘\0’ will be appended at the end of the string by the compiler.

The main difference between Char literal and String literal is that the string literal cannot be reassigned to another set of characters whereas, we can reassign the characters of the array.

Lets see this in a program

// C program to illustrate strings
int main()
    // declare and initialize string
    char str[] = "Nerdy E";
    char c[] = "'N','e','r','d','y',' ','E'";
    // print string
    printf("String Array Value is: %s\n",str);
    printf("Char Array Value is: %s\n",c);
    return 0;

What do you think the output would be?

The output for both type will be same.


String Array Value is: Nerdy E
Char Array Value is: Nerdy E

Read Strings from the user


In C programming, scanf() is one of the commonly used function to take input from the user. The scanf() function reads formatted input from the standard input such as keyboards until it encounters whitespace (space, newline, tab, etc.).

Lets take an example to see this –

// C program to read strings
int main()
    // declaring string
    char str[50];
    // taking input from user
    printf("Enter a string :");
    // reading string
    // print string
    printf("The string is %s\n",str);
    return 0;


Enter a string :N_Electronics
The string is N_Electronics

Passing Strings to function

In the following example we have a string array variable which is passed to a function.

#include <stdio.h>
void displayString(char []);
int main(void) {
  // variables
  char message[] = "Hello Nerds";
  // print the string message
  return 0;
void displayString(char str[]) {
  printf("String: %s\n", str);


  • void is the returns type of the function i.e. it will return nothing.
  • displayString is the name of the function.
  • message[] is the character array (string).


String: Hello World

Functions in Strings

String functions are used in computer programming languages to manipulate a string or query information about a string (some do both). There are many important string functions defined in “string.h” library. Some of them are given below :


It returns the length of the string without including end character (terminating char ‘\0’).

Syntax : 

strlen(str1);     //returns the length of str1


It copies the string str2 into string str1, including the end character (terminator char ‘\0’).

Syntax : 

strcpy(str1, str2);


It concatenates two strings and returns the concatenated string.

Syntax : 

strcat(str1, str2);     //Concatenates string str2 onto the end of string str1.

Lets use all these functions in a program to understand better.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
int main () {
   char str1[12] = "Nerdy";
   char str2[12] = "Electronics";
   char str3[20];
   int  len ;
   /* copy str1 into str3 */
   strcpy(str3, str1);
   printf("strcpy( str3, str1) :  %s\n", str3 );
   /* concatenates str1 and str2 */
   strcat( str1, str2);
   printf("strcat( str1, str2):   %s\n", str1 );
   /* total lenghth of str1 after concatenation */
   len = strlen(str1);
   printf("strlen(str1) :  %d\n", len );
   return 0;

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

strcpy( str3, str1) :  Nerdy
strcat( str1, str2):   NerdyElectronics
strlen(str1) :  16


1. strcpy(str3,str1) gives Nerdy, since str3 is null.

2. strcat(str1,str2) then concatenates both the strings and gives combined result.

3. Finally, strlen(str1) gives the length of str1 ( which consists of the concatenated string )


It compares the two strings and returns an integer value. If both the strings are same (equal) then this function would return 0 otherwise it may return a negative or positive value based on the comparison.


strcmp(str1, str2);

Returns 0 if str1 and str2 are the same;

less than 0 if str1<str2;

greater than 0 if str1>str2.

Lets take an example –

#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
int main()
     char s1[25] = "NerdyElectronics";
     char s2[25] = "";
     if (strcmp(s1, s2) ==0)
        printf("string 1 and string 2 are equal");
         printf("string 1 and 2 are different");
     return 0;


Can you guess what the output will be?

string 1 and 2 are different


The strrev(string) function returns reverse of the given string.




The strlwr(string) function returns string characters in lowercase.




The strupr(string) function returns string characters in uppercase.

Now let’s see a simple example using these 3 functions.

#include <string.h>    
int main(){    
   char str[20]; 
   char str1[20];
   char str2[20];   
   printf("Enter string: ");    
   gets(str);     //reads string from console    
   printf("String is: %s",str);    
   printf("\nReverse String is: %s",strrev(str));  
   str1 = strlwr(str);   //converts string into lowercase
   printf("\nLowercase String is: %s",str1);
   str2 = strupr(str1);  //converts string into uppercase
   printf("\nUppercase String is: %s",str2);
   return 0;    


Enter string: NERDY
String is: NERDY
Reverse String is: YDREN
Lowercase String is: nerdy
Uppercase String is: NERDY

Try to use all these functions while using Strings, it will help you understand better.


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