Difference Between C and C++

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C and C++ are programming languages that are used to create applications. They are two of the most widely used and oldest programming languages. This article will explain the difference between C and C++ programming languages. C++ is a superset of C since it was inspired by and derived from C.

C and C++ are two of the oldest programming languages still in use. Though C++ is a direct descendant of the C language, it has higher efficiency and performance. Each programming language comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

C++ programming language is an upgraded version of the C programming language with the inclusion of object-oriented functionality.

What is C Programming Language?

The C programming language is a general-purpose and high-level language that facilitates structured programming. C was later on chosen as a system development language because it generates code that executes almost as quickly as an assembly language code.

The C programming language was created by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs in 1972 to allow utilities to run on Unix systems. Because C programs are fast, they allow programmers to manually control computer hardware.

The strength of the C programming language is its performance and its use for coding on a wide range of platforms. Operating systems, interpreters, compilers, and microcontrollers are some of the systems that use the C language for their internal programming.

Features of C Programming Language

Here are the top features of C programming language:

  • Efficient: C is known for its efficiency and fast execution speed, making it ideal for developing system software and other applications that require high performance.
  • Procedural Language: C follows a top-down approach in solving a problem, which makes it easy to understand and maintain the code.
  • Platform-independent: C can be compiled and executed on various operating systems, making it a portable language.
  • Static Typing: C is a statically typed language, which helps in catching errors at compile-time and improves code reliability.
  • Modular: C supports modular programming, which allows developers to break down the code into smaller, reusable components, making it easier to manage and maintain the code.

What is C++ Programming Language?

C++ was created by Bjarne Stroustrup and was considered the finest version of C when it first appeared in 1985. In 1979, while working at Bell Labs, Bjarne started developing the C++ programming language. He aimed to build a C extension that was more efficient and versatile than the C programming language.

Object-oriented programming (OOPS) is made possible using C++. OOPS is a concept in programming in which we write programs based on the principle of real-world objects. Like every object in the world has its own set of characteristics and functions to perform, similarly, object-oriented programming helps us to implement this approach through programming.

OOPS has four basic principles as given below:

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

C++ has a low abstraction level and relies on manual memory management. It is lightweight as compared to C programming language and can be used to create apps for a number of different platforms.

Features of C++ Programming Language

Here are the top features of C++ programming language:

  • Object-oriented Language: C++ is an object-oriented programming language that supports encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism.
  • Standard Library: C++ comes with a rich standard library that provides a wide range of functions and algorithms for common programming tasks.
  • Template support: C++ supports templates, which allow developers to create generic classes and functions that can work with any data type, making the code more reusable.
  • Exception Handling: C++ provides exception handling mechanisms that allow developers to handle errors and unexpected situations gracefully, improving the robustness of the code.
  • High-level and Low-level Programming Constructs: C++ is a middle-level language that offers both high-level and low-level programming constructs, making it ideal for developing both high-level and low-level software applications.

Key Difference Between C and C++

Some of the common differences between C and C++ are :

  1. Object-oriented programming: C++ is an object-oriented programming language, whereas C is not. This means that Many features of object-oriented programming language which are present in C++ such as Abstraction, Inheritance, Encapsulation, and Polymorphism are also not available in C language.
  2. Standard libraries: C++ offers a rich set of standard libraries, including the Standard Template Library (STL), which provides data structures and algorithms for common programming tasks. C, on the other hand, has a limited set of standard libraries and relies more on third-party libraries and system-specific APIs.
  3. Function overloading: C++ allows for function overloading, which means that multiple functions can have the same name but different parameters. This allows for more flexible and readable code. C, on the other hand, does not support function overloading.
  4. Operator overloading: C++ also allows for operator overloading, which means that operators such as +, -, *, and / can be redefined to work with user-defined data types. C, on the other hand, does not support operator overloading.
  5. Namespace declarations: C++ allows for namespace declarations, which help to prevent naming conflicts between different parts of a program. C, on the other hand, does not support namespace declarations.
  6. Compatibility: C++ is largely compatible with C, meaning that C code can be used in C++ programs, but not necessarily the other way around. However, there are some differences in syntax and features that can cause issues when porting code from C to C++.

Difference Between C and 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 and 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.

Applications of C Programming Language

The top 5 applications of C programming language are following:

  • System Programming: C is widely used for developing operating systems, device drivers, and other system software due to its efficiency and low-level programming constructs.
  • Embedded Systems: C is often used for developing firmware and embedded systems, such as microcontrollers, routers, and IoT devices.
  • Compiler Development: C is often used for developing compilers and other programming tools due to its flexibility and ability to generate efficient code.
  • Graphics and Gaming: C is often used for developing graphics and gaming applications due to its performance and low-level access to hardware.
  • Database Systems: C is often used for developing database management systems, such as MySQL and PostgreSQL, due to its ability to interact with hardware and low-level constructs.

Applications of C++ Programming Language

The top 5 applications of C programming language are following:

  • Game Development: C++ is widely used for developing high-performance and complex games due to its ability to access hardware directly, as well as its support for object-oriented programming.
  • Operating Systems: C++ is often used for developing operating systems due to its ability to interact with hardware and low-level constructs.
  • Enterprise Applications: C++ is often used for developing large-scale enterprise applications, such as banking systems, due to its support for encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism.
  • Graphics and Multimedia: C++ is often used for developing graphics and multimedia applications, such as 3D modeling and video editing software, due to its performance and low-level access to hardware.
  • Scientific Computing: C++ is often used for developing scientific computing applications, such as numerical simulations and modeling, due to its ability to handle complex computations efficiently.

Advantages and Disadvantages of C Programming Language


  • Efficiency and Speed: C provides direct access to memory and hardware, making it highly efficient and fast. This is particularly beneficial for system software and high-performance applications.
  • Portability: C can be compiled and executed on a variety of operating systems. This makes it suitable for developing cross-platform applications.
  • Mature Language: C has been around for decades, resulting in a rich set of libraries and tools for developers.
  • Large Community: A vast community of C developers exists, making it easier to find resources, support, and collaboration opportunities.
  • Direct Hardware Access: C’s low-level capabilities allow for direct hardware manipulation, which is essential for systems programming.


  • Lack of Memory Management: C does not have built-in memory management, leading to potential memory leaks if not addressed manually by the programmer.
  • Steep Learning Curve: The low-level nature of C and its lack of built-in abstractions can make it challenging for beginners.
  • Buffer Overflow Risks: Programs written in C are prone to buffer overflow attacks if proper precautions aren’t taken. This happens when data is written beyond the boundaries of allocated buffers.
  • Verbosity: C can require a lot of boilerplate code for even simple tasks, leading to larger codebases. Maintenance Costs: The verbose nature of C can increase the maintenance costs of software projects.

Advantages and Disadvantages of C++ Programming Language


  • Object-Oriented Programming: Supports object-oriented programming, promoting code reuse and modular design.
  • High-Level Constructs: Provides high-level programming constructs like templates, facilitating generic programming.
  • Performance and Efficiency: Known for high performance, making it ideal for high-performance applications like video games and scientific simulations.
  • Rich Libraries and Tools: Boasts a vast set of libraries and tools, aiding in development across various domains.


  • Complexity: Its extensive feature set can be daunting, especially for beginners, making the language difficult to grasp.
  • Memory Safety Issues: Lacks certain memory safety features, which can lead to issues like memory leaks if not addressed.
  • Error-Prone: The use of pointers and references can lead to errors and unexpected behaviors if misused.
  • Verbosity: Tends to be more verbose than some other languages, potentially leading to larger codebases and higher maintenance costs.


  • Both C and C++ have left indelible marks in the history of software development. While C set the tone for structured procedural programming, C++ expanded the horizon by introducing object-oriented paradigms.
  • The specific needs of a project often dictate the choice between C and C++. System-level programming that requires raw speed might lean towards C, whereas applications that benefit from a vast library ecosystem might find C++ more fitting.
  • Both languages come with their challenges. C, with its low-level operations, can be tricky, especially around memory management. C++ layers on complexities with its rich feature set, making it both powerful and challenging to master.
  • A significant asset for both languages is their vast and active communities. This ensures a wealth of resources, tutorials, and solutions for common challenges. However, transitioning between them demands a grasp of their individual strengths and idiosyncrasies.
  • In the grand duel of C vs. C++, there isn’t a definitive winner. Both languages have carved their niches and have stood the test of time. Their effectiveness boils down to the specific needs of a task and the proficiency of the programmer wielding them.

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