Characteristics of C Programming Language

Introduction to C Language

In this blog post, we will discuss the characteristics of C language. C is a general-purpose computer programming language that had been used by many developers for years to create software and applications.

It was designed to be compiled with a relatively small amount of memory so it could run on computers with limited resources. This makes it ideal for embedded systems or devices where space is at a premium.

In addition, C has been standardized by an international standards body since 1989 which ensures compatibility between various implementations of the same program across different platforms from different vendors.

Characteristics of C Language

Characteristics of C Language

The following are the main characteristics of C Programming Language:

Procedural Language

C is a procedural programming language. It contains all the necessary tools for sequencing, selection, and repetition of code. It also supports user-defined data types, functions, operators, syntax rules, and expressions similar to mathematics.

Fast and Efficient Memory Access

If you are accustomed to any high-level language, you are used to the idea that memory is scarce. If your program needs more memory it can request it from the operating system and then use it. But if you run out of memory your program will be terminated before its time (by the OS). The C language does not work this way. Instead, the C compiler essentially builds an extremely long array of bytes on the stack (or in static memory) of which your program uses only a little bit at a time.


As mentioned in the section on utility, C is often used by developers to write programs that aid them in their daily tasks. Consequently, it tends to be well suited (in terms of time efficiency) for solving small or moderately sized problems – especially those involving systems analysis and numerical calculation. It also works well for prototyping components before moving to higher-level languages like Java/C#, which offer more object-oriented functionality out-of-the-box.


Modularity is an advantage of C. To implement the code, simply, the code must be divided into small pieces (modules) so that it is easier to understand and use. C modules are called functions. Functions can be modularized with or without returning values. The benefit of returning a value is that you can give meaning to your function in terms of other functions.

Statically Typed

C is statically typed, which means that the type of data must be known at compile time. This contrasts with dynamically typed languages, where types are described by variables. What this means for C is that you cannot declare a variable without specifying its type.

General-Purpose Language

C is a general-purpose language, which means that it can be used for a wide variety of systems and applications. It’s not strictly limited to one type of usage like many other languages [e.g., COBOL].

Loop control statements

C supports all of the loop constructs of languages like C++ and Java (for, while and do-while loops). Furthermore, it includes a goto statement that allows for an unconditional jump to any line in the function. Functions can be nested within loops or other functions arbitrarily. Function parameters allow you to pass data to the function, which can then be used within the function.

Rich set of built-in Operators

The rich set of built-in operators allows for concise and efficient manipulation of data. These built-in operators can be combined with user-defined functions to create complex expressions.


C is considered to be a low-level language because it can access hardware directly. This provides C with portability across platforms because the C compiler focuses on translating human-readable code into machine language. The advantage of this is that once the machine language has been translated into executable files, then the same file can be used across different types of computers.

Middle-Level Language

C is considered a middle-level language because it supports high-level data structures, but also has low-level programming abilities.

Easy to Extend

C’s design is intentionally minimalistic. In other words, the language itself isn’t large and bloated with a huge variety of functions as you might find in Java or Visual Basic. The trade-off for this simplicity means that C can be used to create programs very quickly because it does not need to link against many libraries.

Libraries with rich Functions

C has a very complete set of libraries, with advance (sometimes complex) functions. This is because there are many tools that can be built using C’s rich feature set.


C is an important language. It’s considered to be the “middle man” language because it could be used for both creating large applications, and small utilities; it can be used to create very fast code, but also much slower code; it has the capability of creating compiled library files (so other languages can import them), but also compiles in almost real-time (with compilers like GCC).

For this reason, C is often seen as a priority in college programs for students who want to learn how to program in general, because all modern programming languages are based on C in some way. So learning C means learning concepts that span across many languages. That said, if you’re looking for something more forgiving than C, I’d suggest you start with Python.

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