Gordon Gordon - 2 months ago 6x
PHP Question

Reference - What do <various symbols> mean in PHP?

What is this?

This is a collection of questions that come up every now and then about syntax in PHP. This is also a Community Wiki, so everyone is invited to participate in maintaining this list.

Why is this?

It used to be hard to find questions about operators and other syntax tokens.¹

The main idea is to have links to existing questions on Stack Overflow, so it's easier for us to reference them, not to copy over content from the PHP Manual.

¹ Note: Since January 2013, Stack Overflow does support special characters. Just surround the search terms by quotes, e.g.
[php] "==" vs "==="

What should I do here?

If you have been pointed here by someone because you have asked such a question, please find the particular syntax below. The linked pages to the PHP manual along with the linked questions will likely answer your question then. If so, you are encouraged to upvote the answer. This list is not meant as a substitute to the help others provided.

The List

If your particular token is not listed below, you might find it in the List of Parser Tokens.

Bitwise Operators or References


Bitwise Operators

Logical Operators

Arithmetic Operators

Logical Operators

Error Control Operators

Ternary Operator

Null Coalesce Operator (since PHP 7)

Alternative syntax for control structures, Ternary Operator

Scope Resolution Operator


Classes And Objects


Bitwise Operators

Bitwise Operators

Bitwise Operators

Heredoc or Nowdoc

Assignment Operators

Comparison Operators

Comparison Operators

Comparison Operators

Comparison Operators

Comparison Operators

Comparison Operators (since PHP 7.0)

Bitwise Operators

Logical Operators

Bitwise Operators

Arithmetic Operators, Array Operators

Assignment Operators

Incrementing/Decrementing Operators

Assignment Operators

String Operators

Function Arguments

Variable Variables

Execution Operator

Short Open Tags

Arrays (since PHP 5.4)

Opening and Closing tags

Argument unpacking (since PHP 5.6)

Exponentiation (since PHP 5.6)

One-line shell-style comment


Incrementing / Decrementing Operators

++ increment operator

-- decrement operator

Example    Name              Effect
++$a       Pre-increment     Increments $a by one, then returns $a.
$a++       Post-increment    Returns $a, then increments $a by one.
--$a       Pre-decrement     Decrements $a by one, then returns $a.
$a--       Post-decrement    Returns $a, then decrements $a by one.

These can go before or after the variable.

If put before the variable, the increment / decrement operation is done to the variable first then the result is returned. If put after the variable, the variable is first returned, then the increment / decrement operation is done.

For example:

$apples = 10;
for ($i = 0; $i < 10; ++$i){
    echo 'I have ' . $apples-- . " apples. I just ate one.\n";

Live example

In the case above ++$i is used, since it is faster. $i++ would have the same results.

Pre-increment is a little bit faster, because it really increments the variable and after that 'returns' the result. Post-increment creates a special variable, copies there value of the first variable and only after first variable is used, replaces its value with second's.

However, you must use $apples--, since first you want to display the current number of apples, and then you want to subtract one from it.

You can also increment letters in PHP:

$i = "a";
while ($i < "c"){
    echo $i++;

Once z is reached aa is next, and so on.

Note that character variables can be incremented but not decremented and even so only plain ASCII characters (a-z and A-Z) are supported.

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