String handling functions in C

Like numbered arrays, C handles character arrays (strings).

  1. Each string is identified as a character array and ends with a ‘\0’(null) character (the compiler automatically adds the null character). So the end of string is identified as a null character.
  2. Being an array, all the elements of the string array stored in continuous memory locations

following is the declaration of character array

char name[50];


char name[]=”Pradeep Kumar”;


char name[20]=”Hello Pradeep”;

Strings can be handled or manipulated through loops or library functions. There are some library functions to handle strings are available at string.h

Some of them are


  • This is to find the length of the string and returns an integer
  • For example, if “Hello” is the string, the length will be 5 and “Hello “, the length is 6 (there is a blank space after o in hello)

strcat(String1, string2)

  • to concatenate two strings
  • One string will be appended to another string (the concatenation happens by inserting the new string at the null character ‘\0’ of the first string)
  • Example, if String1 is “Hello” and String2 is “Pradeep”, then strcat(string1, string2) will be “HelloPradeep”
  • Similarly,  if String1 is “Hello ” and String2 is “Pradeep”, then strcat(string1, string2) will be “Hello Pradeep”

strcpy(Destination, source)

  • This function is to copy one string to other
  • usually the copying string will be the 2nd parameter and copied string will be the first parameter
  • Example, if string1 is “Bad” and string2 is “Good” the strcpy(string1,string2) will give Good for string1

strcmp(Destination, source)

  • This function is to compare two strings whether they are equal or not
  • like numbers, two strings should not be compared directly like if(a==b)
  • If both the strings are equal, the function returns 0, else it will return the difference of ASCII value of the first non matching characters
  • Example, strcmp(“Their”, “There”) will return ASCII(i) – ASCII(r) (an integer will be returned)

Example Program

//program to demonstrate string handling functions
#include <stdio.h>
#include <conio.h>
int main()
    char a[50];
    char b[50];
    printf("Please the two strings one by one\n");
    printf("Length of String a is %d \n",strlen(a));
    printf("Length of String b is %d \n",strlen(b));
    if(!strcmp(a,b))  //Comparing two string will return 0, ! before strcmp() is needed
    printf("Both the strings are Equal");
    printf("Both the strings are not equal");
    strcat(a,b);  //Concatenation function
    printf("the concatenated String is:");
    printf("The reverse string is\n");
    return 0;

In the above program , instead of gets() function, scanf() can be used, but the disadvantage of scanf() being it truncates the blank space, new line, form feed, tab.

So for example, if the input give is “Hello pradeep”, then Hello only will be accepted, the string after the blank space will be omitted by the compiler, so gets() can be used.

Similarly, puts() or printf() can be used to display strings.


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