Last update August 5, 2009


An expression that represents an object or a function and that can be both examined and altered. Contrast with rvalue. source

Typically an lvalue is a variable, returned reference, pointer being dereferenced, indexed array element, or class instance (Object).

Modifying operations like ++, --, +=, *=, =, member function calls, and such may be applied to lvalues.

The dereference operator *expr turns rvalues into lvalues. The reference or address-of operator &expr turns lvalues into rvalues.


// D2 code.
class C
    int a;
    this() {}

struct S
    int a;

int foo;
int bar() { return foo; }
int* baz() { return &foo; }
ref int qux() { return foo; }
C getC() { return new C(); }
S s;
S getS() { return s; }

void main()
    int* ptr = new int;
    foo++; // foo is an lvalue because it is a variable.
    bar()++; // Error: bar() is not an lvalue. (It is an rvalue.)
    bar() = 42; // Error: bar() is not an lvalue.  bar() is an rvalue and must appear on the right-hand-side of the assignment.
    baz() = ptr; // Error: baz() is not an lvalue.  A pointer is returned, but not dereferenced.
    *baz() = 42; // Fine.  The dereference operator turns baz() into an lvalue.
    qux() = 42; // Fine.  References are lvalues.

    getC().a = 42; // Fine, getC() is a class instance, and therefore also an lvalue.

    // Compiles, but does nothing.  getS() is not an lvalue, but an rvalue.
    // getS() returns a struct whose a member is set to 42, but the struct is a copy that gets discarded.
    getS().a = 42;

    s.a = 42; // This really will set a to 42.  s is an lvalue because it is a variable.

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