What is difference between pre-increment and post-increment in a for loop?

I have been new to programming and i have seen a lot of codes lately.
some people use this:

for(int i=0; i<3 i++)
  cout<<i<<" ";

0 1 2

some people use this:

 for(int i=0; i<3; ++i)
   cout<<i<<" ";

0 1 2

What’s the difference between both and which is better to use?

Ps. I have read in my college course that ++i is pre-increment, so i think the output for second case should be:
1 2


Do this


You will see the difference between pre and post increment/decrement

In a for loop with an int loop variable, there is almost certainly no practical difference: while in theory, ++i might be faster, in practice the compiler is almost certain to optimise the difference between them to nothing at all.

If writing generic code (i.e. code that uses a template type) that might use a user-defined type as a loop variable, ++i is preferred.

I always use i++ when i is an int (or short/ long/ iterator etc), mainly out of habit :slight_smile:

No, in this case both snippets of code have the same output.

Some further reading: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/24853/c-what-is-the-difference-between-i-and-i?noredirect=1&lq=1


I wanted to know why they work the same in for loop.

See e.g. this post that gives a breakdown of how for loops work and why i++ and ++i give the same result.

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@ssjgz yeah. but when the for loop is executed, it goes like this

  1. int i=0
  2. i<3
  3. ++i (In this step, i value is already incremented right?)


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Please read my other post in the thread :slight_smile:


Cool bruh. Thanks for the answer.

For people who are reading this post,
The summary which i understood was:
++i increments before
i++ increments after
But, the catch is
for(int i=0; i<3; ++i)
In the above statement, though i gets incremented before, the whole code of the loop is not executed. So it goes inside the for loop, executes rest of the code and then comes back again to check i value.

Would be happy to know faults if any :slight_smile:


in the two snippets, there is no difference in when i++ and i-- perform the increment (so it doesn’t make sense to say "++i increments before/ i++ increments after") - the only real difference between the statements is that i++ performs the increment and returns its old value, and ++i performs the increment and (essentially) returns the new value. Since we don’t use the returned value of either of i++ or ++i anywhere in either of the snippets, this return value is irrelevant, and so there is no observable difference of behaviour.


i does not get incremented first. The code inside the loop will be executed first and then increment takes place . So i++ and ++i works the same. You can check some flow charts of for loops to be more clear about them.


Let me explain you how for loop works,

for(A ; B ; C ) {

Flow of for loop goes from A -> (B -> D -> C) -> (B -> D -> C ) … so on
Hence “ANY” command which is part of block “C” will be executed only after completing part A,B and D.
Hence the increment will happen after executing part A,B,D.

Note that return value of part B will only matter for “for” loop. Rest will just be ignored.

Let C be consisting of two parts, C1 followed by C2.

C1 = increment
C2 = return value

C1 = return value
C2 = increment

Here return value in both cases will differ but ultimately for loop is going to ignore return value as C is not part of B. And hence only increment part is actually important. It doesn’t make any difference if you interchange C1 and C2 in this case.
(But as @ssjgz said it might create a very small change in running (execution) time depending on compiler)
Let me know if anything is still unclear @me_so_cool


Understood it. Thanks for the help @l_returns.
Now the only confusing thing is if your username has “I” (capital i) or “l” (small l).


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Small L :stuck_out_tongue: ( From anime Death note)


But thats capital L🤔

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But capitals are not allowed in username :pensive: