Difference Between C and C++

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C++ Course: Learn the Essentials
C++ Course: Learn the Essentials
by Prateek Narang
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C++ Course: Learn the Essentials
C++ Course: Learn the Essentials
by Prateek Narang
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What is C?

The C programming language, developed by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs in 1972, is a high-level, general-purpose language that supports structured programming. Chosen for system development due to its ability to produce code running nearly as fast as assembly language, C is crucial for programming utilities on Unix systems. It stands out for its performance and versatility across various platforms, including operating systems, interpreters, compilers, and microcontrollers, thanks to its ability to allow direct manipulation of computer hardware.

What is C++?

Bjarne Stroustrup developed C++ in 1979 at Bell Labs, enhancing the C language with features for more efficient and versatile programming, and officially introduced it in 1985. C++ supports Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), which allows programmers to create programs that mimic real-world objects, each with its unique characteristics and behaviors.

OOP in C++ is built on four main principles:

  1. Abstraction
  2. Encapsulation
  3. Inheritance
  4. Polymorphism

Compared to C vs C++, C++ is designed to offer a balance of low-level control and high-level functionality, making it a powerful choice for developing software across various platforms.

C Vs C++

Let's summarise Difference Between C and C++:

Programming ParadigmProcedural languageC++ is both a procedural and object-oriented programming language (OOPS)
DeveloperDennis RitchieBjarne Stroustrup
OriginIt is based on Assembly LanguageIt is based on C language
Abstraction, Encapsulation, Inheritance, PolymorphismC does not support the given OOPS principles.C++ supports all of the given principles.
Operator OverloadingNot supportedSupported
KeywordsC has 32 keywords.C++ has 63 keywords
Constructor/DestructorNo constructor or destructor is supported in CBoth constructors and destructors are supported
Exception HandlingNot supportedSupported
ApproachC uses top-down approachC++ uses bottom-up approach
Storage and dynamic memory allocationC uses functions- malloc and calloc for storage and dynamic memory allocationC++ uses operators- new and delete for performing storage and dynamic memory allocation
Header filesUses header file eg. stdio.hUses header file eg. iostream.h
Standard I/O operationsUses printf and scanf for input and output operationsC++ uses cin>> and cout<< and also printf and scanf
TemplatesDoes not supports templatesSupports templates
File extensionFile extension for a C program is .cFile extension for C++ program is .cpp
Program divisionThe program is divided into small codes known as functionsA C++ program is divided into small pieces of code known as classes and objects.
Inline functionC does not supports inline functionsC++ supports inline functions
STL (Standard Template Library)Not available in C.C++ provides the STL, which is a collection of template classes to provide general-purpose classes and functions with templates that implement many popular and commonly used algorithms and data structures.
Reference VariablesC does not support reference variables.C++ supports reference variables which provide an alternative name (alias) to a previously defined variable.
NamespaceC does not have the concept of namespaces.C++ introduces the concept of namespaces which can encapsulate a group of global classes, functions, and/or variables.

Similarities Between C and C++

Some of the common Similarities between C vs C++ are:

  1. Syntax: Both C and C++ share a similar syntax, with many of the same keywords, operators, and programming constructs, including loops, conditional statements, and functions. This similarity in syntax makes it easier for developers to learn both languages.
  2. Low-level programming: Both C and C++ are low-level programming languages that provide direct access to memory and hardware. This makes them ideal for developing system software and applications that require high performance and low-level access.
  3. Compiler-based languages: Both C and C++ are compiled languages, which means that the code must be compiled before it can be executed. This allows for better performance and control over system resources.
  4. Support for pointers: Both C and C++ support pointers, which are variables that hold the memory address of another variable. This allows for more efficient memory management and direct access to hardware resources. However, the use of pointers in both languages can also make the code more error-prone if not used correctly.

Features of C and C++

Features of C

  • C is efficient, ideal for high-performance system software.
  • C uses a procedural, top-down approach, enhancing code clarity and maintenance.
  • C is platform-independent, working across various operating systems.
  • C employs static typing, catching errors early and enhancing reliability.
  • C supports modular programming, facilitating code reuse and maintenance.

Features of C++

  • C++ is object-oriented, promoting encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism.
  • C++ includes a rich standard library for common programming tasks.
  • C++ offers template support for generic programming, increasing code reusability.
  • C++ has exception handling for robust error management.
  • C++ balances high-level and low-level programming, suitable for diverse software development.

Advantages of C and C++

Advantages of C

  • C offers efficient, speedy access to memory and hardware, great for system software.
  • Portable across many operating systems, C supports cross-platform application development.
  • With decades of use, C has a rich ecosystem of libraries and tools.
  • A large community backs C, offering extensive resources and support.
  • C provides direct hardware access for in-depth systems programming.

Advantages of C++

  • C++ supports object-oriented programming for reusable and modular code.
  • It introduces high-level constructs like templates for generic programming.
  • C++ is known for its performance, ideal for demanding applications like games.
  • Offers a comprehensive set of libraries and tools for diverse development needs.

Limitations of C and C++

Limitations of C

  • C lacks built-in memory management, risking memory leaks.
  • C's low-level nature and lack of abstractions present a steep learning curve.
  • C is vulnerable to buffer overflow attacks due to unchecked buffer limits.
  • Writing in C often requires verbose code, leading to bulkier projects.
  • C's verbosity can escalate software maintenance costs.

Limitations of C++

  • C++'s breadth of features introduces complexity, challenging beginners.
  • C++ does not fully ensure memory safety, posing a risk of memory leaks.
  • Misuse of pointers and references in C++ can cause errors and unpredictable behavior.
  • C++'s verbosity may result in larger codebases and increased maintenance efforts.


  • C focuses on procedural programming and system development, while C++ offers object-oriented features for broader software design.
  • C++ extends C with object-oriented principles like encapsulation and polymorphism, enhancing code reuse and maintenance.
  • C is chosen for direct hardware manipulation tasks, whereas C++ is preferred for complex applications leveraging a vast standard library.
  • Both languages C vs C++ support low-level programming and efficient memory management, crucial for performance-critical applications.
  • The selection and difference between C and C++ hinges on project needs: C for system-level programming, C++ for object-oriented software development.