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C vs C++ : Difference Between C and C++

Author: Helen Rebane

16 June, 2021

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If you are new to the programming world, you have probably stumbled upon C and C++ languages. Because both of these languages are used in application development, it is easy to confuse them.


Many confuse them because C++ is a direct descendent of C, which implies that many features of both languages are the same. However, in many aspects, the two languages differ from each other drastically. So, if you still do not completely understand the differences between the two languages, we'll give you a clear overview. 


Difference Between C and C++


It is hard to tell which one is better in the C vs. C++ comparison. It depends on what type of project you are working on. The chief difference between the two languages is C++ supports classes and objects, while C does not. 


But let's start from the basics, and take a deeper look at each of the languages separately. 




You might wonder: why C? What was the purpose of naming this programming language "C"? Well, the truth is it was intended as a joke. This programming language was based on another little-known language that was named B. So to imply that the new language is the updated version of the B, they chose its alphabetical successor, C. 


It ended up being a completely new language, which even today stays one of the most popular programming languages.


C is a general-purpose, procedural programming language. The main advantage of C is that it performs well and is used for different platforms. If you start learning the language, you can be sure you'll never be out of a job because you can code almost anything using C. 


The fact that it was designed in 1972 and is still one of the most famous languages tells a lot about C. It was a game-changer when in earlier years and still stays one. 




Now let's take a look at C++. As you could have guessed from the name, C++ is like an updated version of C. It was designed first by Bjarne Stroustrup in 1985 as an extension for the programming language C. Stroustrup wanted to make C more flexible, so he came up with C++. 


The chief difference of C++ is that it supports object-oriented programming. If procedural programming is functioning with a step-by-step guideline, object-oriented programing works focusing on the objects. The C++ has all the features of C, added up with some extra ones. Again, you can use C++ for different projects, and it is compatible with almost all of the platforms. C++ later influenced the creation of C# and java. 


Now that we have covered the basic definitions let's see what is the difference between C and C++? 


Differences between C and C++ 


Application field 


C was designed as a better language for the UNIX operating system. Later on, it became one of the most common languages for developing operating systems. C has been used while scripting in Unix-Kernel, Microsoft Windows, and also a large junk of Android operating system. So the key usage of C is in developing desktop and mobile operating systems.  


C++, on the other hand, focuses on a different discipline. Developers use C++ mainly for gaming, server-side, or networking applications. You can also use it to develop device drivers. When you learn C++, it is way easier to get your hands on Java, Python, and other programming languages. 


Language Type 


As we have mentioned before, C is a procedure or so-called structure-oriented language, while C++ is an object-oriented one. Here is a more complete explanation: 


Procedure- oriented language : 


This type of programming language uses a top-down strategy. In other words, you start with high-level design and make your way to the low-level design. Here you first right your main()function, and then, when you want to call your subfunctions, you have to call them from your initial main()function. The C language follows this approach. 


 Object-oriented language:


Object-oriented language is the complete opposite of the above. As you could have guessed, it functions with the bottom-up strategy. In this case, you start working on the low-level design and build it up to the high-level one. 


So you basically start by developing modules and then use those in your main()function. The C++ language is an object-oriented one. 


Today you can find both of the language structures in software development. Most of the time, you will see the two approaches mixed in the modern software design. It allows getting the best quality possible. 




Another aspect for comparing C and C++ is security. C is a less secure language as it does not offer encapsulation. It is because C treats functions as separate entities. 


On the other hand, C++ connects functions in one object, also connecting the data. Therefore, C++ also supports encapsulation which in its turn results in more secure storage of data. You can hide your information easily with C++.


So when it comes to data security, C is not as safe as C++. 


Supported Features 


When it comes to features, C++ has a lot to offer than C. It supports the usage of functions inside of the structures. With C, on the other hand, you cannot define any function within the structure. 


There are also some differences regarding the variables. If you are using the C language, you have to declare variables at the start of each function. C++ is way more flexible in this aspect. You can define variables anywhere in the function. 


However, C++ does not let you declare multiple global variables, while C does. Still, C++ has more features than C. 


Easy to learn


There is no definite answer here. We cannot tell you that C is easier to learn than C++ and vice versa. In general, people prefer to learn C++ as it seems to offer more than C. However, starting with C might give you a deeper insight into the functionalities of hardware, mainly CPU. The C language is very straightforward, so you understand how the hardware works. 


As mentioned, C has fewer features, so for beginners, it might be also easier to learn than C++. But again, the decision is very personal. If you are more familiar with object-oriented programming then starting with C++ will be a better choice. 


There is also a common complaint from the developers who started with the C. So when switching to C++, they could not get rid of the old habits. So, first, figure out what field you want to work in. if you were always dreaming of building video games, then start with C++ right away. 


These were some of the main C and C++ differences. So to sum it up, here is a clear comparison table: 


Programming LanguageApplication field Language Type SecuritySupported FeaturesThe easiness of Learning
CMainly used for developing desktop or mobile operating systemsProcedure-orientedDoes not support encapsulation, so is less secure.Does not have many supported features.Has less features, so is generally easier to learn.
C++Mainly used for developing games, server-side applications and networking applications. Object-orientedSupports encapsulation, so is more secure.Supports defining function within the structure,  declaring variables from anywhere, and morePerfect for those who are focused on object-oriented programming.


Whichever language you choose, you can be sure to find a lot of job opportunities! So simply figure out which one is right for you. 

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