# Increment/decrement operators

< c‎ | language

Increment/decrement operators are unary operators that increment/decrement the value of a variable by 1.

They can be applied either postfix:

a++
a--

or prefix:

++a
--a

The returned result of the postfix version of the operator is the original operand, with a side-effect being that the operand is incremented/decremented after this result is returned.

The returned result of the prefix version of the operator is the incremented/decremented operand.

Therefore, the following lines all result in a being incremented by 1:

a = a + 1;
a += 1;
a++;
++a;

But, the value of b is not equal to the value of c after the execution of the following lines:

int a = 1;
int b = a++; // after execution: a equals 2, b equals 1
a = 1;
int c = ++a; // after execution: a equals 2, c equals 2

### Example

```#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main(void) {

int a = 1;
int b = 1;

// Behaviour of the postfix increment and decrement operators.
printf("\n");
printf("original values: a == %d, b == %d\n", a, b);
printf("result of postfix operators: a++ == %d, b-- == %d\n", a++, b--);
printf("after postfix operators applied: a == %d, b == %d\n", a, b);

// Reset a and b.
a = 1;
b = 1;

// Behaviour of the prefix increment and decrement operators.
printf("\n");
printf("original values: a == %d, b == %d\n", a, b);
printf("result of prefix operators: ++a == %d, --b == %d\n", ++a, --b);
printf("after prefix operators applied: a == %d, b == %d\n", a, b);

printf("\n");

return EXIT_SUCCESS;
}```

Output:

```original values: a == 1, b == 1
result of postfix operators: a++ == 1, b-- == 1
after postfix operators applied: a == 2, b == 0

original values: a == 1, b == 1
result of prefix operators: ++a == 2, --b == 0
after prefix operators applied: a == 2, b == 0```

### Notes

Because of the side-effects involved, built-in increment and decrement operators must be used with care to avoid undefined behavior due to violations of sequencing rules.

Common operators
assignment increment
decrement
arithmetic logical comparison member
access
other

a = b
a += b
a -= b
a *= b
a /= b
a %= b
a &= b
a |= b
a ^= b
a <<= b
a >>= b

++a
--a
a++
a--

+a
-a
a + b
a - b
a * b
a / b
a % b
~a
a & b
a | b
a ^ b
a << b
a >> b

!a
a && b
a || b

a == b
a != b
a < b
a > b
a <= b
a >= b

a[b]
*a
&a
a->b
a.b

a(...)
a, b
(type) a
? :
sizeof
_Alignof
(since C11)