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What are enums in C?

Educative Answers Team

An enumeration(enum) is a special class that represents a group of constants. It is used to assign names to the integral constants, which makes​ a program easy to read and maintain.

The enum keyword is used to create an enum. The constants declared inside are separated by commas.

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Codes

Example

By default, the first item in the list is assigned the value 00, the second item is assigned the value 11, and so on. The code below demonstrates this:

#include<stdio.h>

enum color {
  red,
  green,
  blue
};

int main() 
{
  // Initializing a variable that will hold the enums
  enum color current_color = red;
	printf("Value of red = %d \n", current_color);	

	current_color = green;
	printf("Value of green = %d \n", current_color);	

	current_color = blue;
	printf("Value of blue = %d \n", current_color);	
	return 0;
}

Assigning custom values to enum elements

#include<stdio.h>

enum suit {
    club = 0,
    diamonds = 10,
    hearts = 20,
    spades = 30
};

int main() 
{
    // Initializing a variable that will hold the enums
    enum suit current_card = club;
	printf("Value of club = %d \n", current_card);	

	current_card = hearts;
	printf("Value of hearts = %d \n", current_card);	
	return 0;
}

Where to use enum

enum is used for values that are not going to change (e.g., days of the week, colors in a rainbow, number of cards in a deck, etc.​).

enum is commonly used in switch-case statements. The code below shows an example:

#include <stdio.h> 
enum day {sunday , monday, tuesday, 
          wednesday, thursday, friday, saturday}; 
  
int main() 
{
  // Enums can also take their integer equivalent values
  enum day today = 4;

  switch(today)
  {
    case sunday:
      printf("The day today is Sunday");
      break;
    case monday:
      printf("The day today is Monday");
      break;
    case tuesday:
      printf("The day today is Tuesday");
      break;
    case wednesday:
      printf("The day today is Wednesday");
      break;
    case thursday:
      printf("The day today is Thursday");
      break;
    case friday:
      printf("The day today is Friday");
      break;
    default:
      printf("The day today is Saturday");
  }
    return 0; 
} 

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