30+ Differences in C and C++ Languages

30+ Differences in C and C++ Languages

30+ Differences in C and C++ Languages

 C and C++ are the two oldest programming languages that are still in use today. Of course, both programming languages have their advantages and disadvantages.

To give you an overview of the differences between C and C++ languages, C++ is an enhanced version of the C programming language with additional object-oriented features. C has been the motivation behind the birth of the C++ language. Not only C++ but many high-level programming languages that are currently popular such as Java, PHP and Python.

Difference between C and C++ languages

Before going deeper into the differences between C and C++ languages, let's first take a look at the two languages.

What Is C Language?

Known as the Father of Modern Programming, C first appeared in 1972 and was developed by Dennis Ritchie while working at Bells Labs. Although it was originally created to create utilities that could run on the Unix platform, it is now one of the most widely used programming languages in the world.

C is a procedural programming language that works at the lowest level of abstraction and is therefore a systems programming language. It's compiled, lightweight, and offers manual memory management.

The strength of the C programming language lies in its performance and ability to be used in coding for a wide variety of platforms. Hence, programming languages can be used for coding almost anything.

While today we have specialties and a wide variety of programming languages to choose from, C was a great invention during its infancy and early years. Its level of versatility has been unmatched over the years.

What Is C++ Language?

Designed by Bjarne Stroustrup, C++ first appeared in 1985 and is considered to be C's finest child prodigy. Bjarne started working on the programming language while working at Bell Labs in 1979. He wanted to develop an extension to the C programming language that was both more efficient and flexible than C .

C++ provides support for object-oriented programming. It offers a low level of abstraction and requires manual memory management. The programming language is comparable to C, lightweight, and compiled. It is capable of developing applications for a wide variety of platforms.

The C++ programming language has almost everything that C has to offer but in a much better way. Like their original inspiration, the C and C++ programming languages have influenced and continue to influence various high-level programming languages, such as C# and Java.

Comparison Between C Vs C++

After you know an explanation of the C and C ++ programming languages. Now let's see the difference between C and C++

Application Development Area

C is a great option for embedded devices and system-level code. In contrast, C++ is the top choice for developing games, networking, and server-side applications. It is also a great option for device driver development.

C++'s authority lies in performance and speed. While C also offers both of these qualities, C++ takes it one step further.


Being a procedure-oriented (structure-oriented) programming language, C follows a top-down approach. It starts with a high-level design and ends with a low-level design.

In the top-down approach, the main() function is written first and all sub-functions are called from the main() function. After that, sub-functions are written as needed.

The C++ programming language is completely opposite to C in this aspect because, like all object-oriented programming languages, it follows a bottom-up approach.

In contrast to the top-down approach, the bottom-up approach begins with a low-level design and ends with a high-level design. In the bottom-up approach, code is developed for the module and after that, this module is integrated with the main() function.

Both types of approaches are involved in software development and not in program execution. Today, software design incorporates a combination of both approaches to get the best of both worlds.

Compatibility With Each Other

C is a subset of C++. Hence, C++ is a superset of C. While C++ can run most of the C code, the C compiler cannot run C++ code.

Compatibility With Other Programming Languages

The C++ programming language provides compatibility with other common programming languages. But otherwise, no such feature is offered by the C programming language.

Data Security, Encapsulation And Information Concealment

Because data and functions are treated as separate entities in the C programming language, there is no support for encapsulation. C++ code binds data and functions together in an object and, therefore, supports encapsulation, which, in turn, offers information hiding.

Another major difference between the C and C++ programming languages is on the basis of data security. In C programming language, data is not as secure as C++ language.


Due to being an object-oriented programming language, C++ is able to hide variables in classes while only offering a function interface. Modifiers can be used for class members to prevent data from being accessed by external users.

There is no such concept in C programming language. As a result, all variables are exposed and hence vulnerable to be accessed by some malicious code.

Variables are also required to be declared at the beginning of the function in C programs. Whereas in C++, variables can be declared anywhere in the function.

The C programming language allows multiple declarations to be made of global variables. This is not the case with C++, which doesn't allow multiple global variable declarations.


Declaring enumerations is possible in C. However, declared enumeration constants are of type integer. In this respect, declaring an enumeration is similar to declaring a number of integer constants. Plus, there is no additional security type.

In the C++ programming language, enumerations are a different type. This means that it is not possible to assign values of integer type to variables of enumeration type unless an explicit conversion is used.

However, it is possible to assign values of enumeration type to some variables of integer type. This is because enumeration types allow implicit conversions via integral promotions. The static checker can easily detect these implicit conversions and provide warnings when needed.

Use of Strings

Another important difference between the security measures offered by C and C++ lies in the use of strings. The [] character represents a string literal in C. When passed to some external function, there is a good chance of that function modifying the original string. To make matters worse, there was no way to prevent something like that from happening.

In contrast, C++ has a variable type called string. Because the type of this variable is immutable, it cannot be changed in its original location.

Data Type

C supports built-in and primitive data types. In contrast, C++ provides support for user-defined data types in addition to primitive and built-in data types. Also, C++ has Boolean and String as built-in data types. There is no such built-in data type in C programming language.

Default Header Files

Another distinction that can be made between C and C++ is based on the default header files used. While C uses stdio.h as the default header file, C++ uses iostream.h as the default header file.

Ease of Coding

C is described as a straightforward programming language. Therefore, it is important to tell the program everything that needs to be done. As an extension of C, C++ allows for highly controlled object-oriented code. Simply put, if C is easy then C++ is easier.

Exception Handling Alias Error Handling

C++ offers an easy way of handling exceptions through Try and Catch blocks. Exceptions are meant to find “hard” errors, which can lead to erroneous code.

Unlike C++, exception handling in C needs to be managed using other functions. This is because the programming language does not provide support for exception handling.

Conventionally, a programmer coding in C needs to prevent errors from happening in advance. Therefore, it is necessary to test the return values of functions. In the worst case where an error is unavoidable, the programmer must log the error and terminate the program properly.

File Extension

All C programs are saved with the .c extension while C++ programs are usually saved with the .cpp extension

Overloading Functions

One of the advanced features brought by the C++ programming language is function overloading, a form of polymorphism. This allows functions with the same name to be defined for multiple purposes. Overloaded functions have the same name even if their parameters are different.

For example, the add() function can be defined in two ways. While one can count the number of integer values, another version can concatenate two (or more) strings. Unlike C++, the C programming language does not provide support for function overloading.

Function With Default Arguments

While C++ allows using functions with default arguments, C doesn't. If such a function is called by passing arguments, then those arguments are used by the function.

GUI programming

To enable GUI (Graphical User Interface) programming, C has GTK tools. C++ supports Qt tools to achieve the same.


Inheritance is the ability of a class to acquire the properties and characteristics of another class. Since this is one of the important properties of OOPS, no such feature is available in C programming language.

A class that inherits properties from another class is called a child class. It may also be known as a derived or subclass. The class whose properties are inherited by the subclasses is known as the base class. It is also referred to as parent or superclass.

Inline Functions

C makes use of Macro functions as a means of optimization techniques, especially to reduce the overall execution time. C++, on the other hand, uses inline functions to optimize written code.

Functions inscribed as inline functions to the compiler allow it to override function definitions wherever they are called. The C++ compiler overrides the inline function definition at compile time instead of referencing the function definition at runtime.

One important thing to note about inlining in C++ is that it is a kind of suggestion made to the compiler. If the function is too big then the compiler can ignore the inline request and run it as a normal function.

Input And Output Operations

The C programming language uses scanf() and printf() for input and output, in their respective order, operations. In contrast, C++ has cin to perform input operations and cout to perform operations related to output.

Keyword Count

C++ has a total of 52 reserved keywords whereas C only has a total of 32 keywords.


The C programming language has a very complicated mapping between data and functions. In C++, mappings between data and functions can be easily created by means of classes and objects.

Memory Management

Although C and C++ require manual memory management, the way to achieve this is different. C offers the calloc() function and malloc() for dynamic memory allocation and the free() function for memory deallocation.

In C++, the new operator is used for dynamic memory allocation while the delete operator is there to complete memory allocation.


Namespaces provide the ability to group named entities into a narrower scope, which is called the namespace scope. Without a namespace, this named entity will have global scope. In other words, a namespace is a declarative area that provides scope for the identifiers within it.

The simple reason to use namespaces is to organize program elements into distinct logical scopes referred to by names. Although C++ supports these features, they are not available from the C programming language.

C++ allows multiple namespace blocks to share the same name. All declarations made in that block are declared in the named scope. Each namespace definition begins with the keyword namespace followed by the namespace name. The general syntax is:

using namespace multiple names;


// code is placed here


Some important things to remember about using namespaces in C++ are:

* Namespace declarations cannot have access specifiers

* Nested namespace declarations within other namespace declarations are also possible

* Namespace declarations can only be made in the global scope

* Namespace definitions can be broken down into units

* There is no need to add a semicolon (;) after the closing bracket of the namespace definition

Operator Overloading

Although operator overloading is not possible in the C programming language, C++ supports the idea. Simply put, it's a feature that allows changing how operators work for user-defined types.

For the basic types namely int, double, float, the meaning of an operator is always the same. For user-defined types, however, it is possible to redefine how the operator works.

Special operator functions need to be defined inside the class to overload operators. Operator overloading is widely used by programmers to make programs more intuitive.


One of the important features of object-oriented programming is polymorphism. Hence, C++ supports it. Polymorphism in C++ means that a call to a member function will result in a different function execution based on the type of object calling the function.

In C++, polymorphism usually occurs when there is a class hierarchy and the same is related through inheritance.

There is no built-in support for polymorphism in C like C++. However, there are some design patterns, such as function pointers, that can offer a logical equivalent for dynamic dispatch.

Program Subdivision

Any C++ program can be divided into classes and objects. AC programs, on the other hand, can be divided into modules and procedures.

Programming Style

The C programming language follows a procedural programming style, which means it does not support the concepts of classes and objects. C++, on the other hand, is a programming language that supports multi-paradigm notions.

Being a multi-paradigm programming language allows C++ to provide support for procedural and object-oriented programming styles. Despite being completely object-oriented, supporting procedural programming makes C++ like a hybrid programming language.

Object-oriented means that C++ increases productivity as well as code organization. Both qualities are important when developing complex applications. The object-oriented nature of C++ makes it a top choice for developing server-side software and fast applications.

C puts emphasis on the steps or procedures followed to solve a particular problem. C++, on the other hand, mainly emphasizes objects. This is because it has a higher level of abstraction than the C programming language.

Reference Variables

Although C++ provides support for reference variables, C does not. Reference variables are another name for existing variables. After an initialized reference to a variable, the variable name and reference variables can be used to refer to the variable.


C is a general purpose programming language with more emphasis on systems programming. Therefore, it is great for embedded systems. On the other hand, C++ is a pure general-purpose programming language, making it the top choice for various areas of application development.

main() Function

C allows calling the main() function over other functions used in the code. In C++, it's not possible to call the main() function through another function.

Use of Functions Within Structures

C++ supports using functions in structures. A structure is very similar to a class in several aspects. However, the main difference lies between the two in terms of default access level.

Any functionality supported by a class is also supported by a struct. Methods are used in the same way for structures as they are used for classes. However, it is not possible to define functions within structures in C programming language.

Virtual And Friend Functions

Every function that is a member function and is declared in the base class is replaced by a derived class called a virtual function. The main goal of virtual functions is to achieve runtime polymorphism. To create a virtual function, the keyword virtual is used.

Friend functions belonging to a class are defined outside its scope but have privileges to access all protected and private members of the class. Even though the prototype friend function appears in the class definition, it is not a member function.

Besides functions, friend functions can be function templates, member functions, classes, or class templates. To make a function a friend function, the function prototype in the class definition begins with the friend keyword. C doesn't have friend functions or virtuals, while C++ has both.

C Vs C++ Comparison Summary

C C++ parameters

Development Area Embedded devices and system-level code. Game, network, and server-side applications.

Approach C follows a top-down approach.

It starts with a high-level design and ends with a low-level design. C++ follows a bottom-up approach. In contrast to the top-down approach, the bottom-up approach begins with a low-level design and ends with a high-level design.

Compatibility with each other. The C compiler cannot execute C++ code. C++ is a superset of C so that C++ can run most of the C code.

Compatibility with other programming languages There is no such feature offered by C. It provides compatibility with other common programming languages.

Data Security, Encapsulation and Information Hiding It does not support encapsulation.

Not great for securing data. Supports encapsulation because it is object-oriented. Great for securing data.

Variables No such feature is offered by C. C++ is able to hide variables in the class while offering only the function interface.

String usage char[] represents a string literal in C. C++ has a variable type called string.

Data Type Supports only built-in and primitive data types. Along with built-in and primitive data types, it also supports user-defined data types.

Default Header file stdio.h iostream.h

Exception Handling Does not provide support for exception handling. Provides try and catch blocks for exception handling.

File Extensions Files are saved with the .c extension. Files are saved with the .cpp extension.

Function with Default Arguments It does not allow the use of functions with default arguments. Allows using functions with default arguments.

GUI programming It has GTK tools to enable GUI programming. It has a QT tool to enable GUI programming.

Inheritance It does not support inheritance. Supports inheritance because it is object-oriented.

Input and Output Functions It uses scanf() and printf() for input and output operations. It uses cin and cout for input and output operations.

C Vs C++: When And Which To Choose?

You need to choose C over C++ when,

* Very little system coding (results in slightly less overhead compared to using C++)

* Application must be very stable (Impossible code and control results by removing C++ abstractions)

* You don't have a C++ compiler on your preferred platform for app development

You should choose C++ over C when,

* Develop applications that work directly with computer hardware

* Develop applications related to application development

* This project aims for very low level processing


That's the difference between C and C++ languages. In essence C++ is a programming language designed as a refinement of the C language. So what C language can do, C++ can certainly do.

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