What Is a Conditional Statement?


Conditional statements are a part of any programming language. Conditional statements execute lines of code only if the condition results to true. Conditional statements return "true" or "false," making it easy for developers to execute specific blocks of code. These statements are logical areas of code that control the way a desktop or web application interacts with the user.


  • Conditional statements function to control the execution of code. They only return "true" or "false," so programmers can write code against the conditional statement in two sections: the section that returns true and the section that returns false. Conditional statements are a part of the logical function in code. This means that even if the logic is incorrect, the compiler does not return an error. Logic errors present bugs in software that return incorrect results or crash during run-time.


  • The most common type of conditional statement is the "if" statement. The "if" statement returns true if the statement is accurate. For instance, the statement "if (5 < 10)" translates to "if 5 is less than 10." This statement is true, so the code located underneath the "if" statement is executed. If it returns false, then the block of code is skipped, and execution resumes to the statement after the "if" statement.


  • Conditional statements contain the "if" statement to compare and the block of code to execute if the statement returns true. The following is the template that identifies an "if" statement in programming code:

    if (statement)
    { code to execute }
    else { alternative code to execute }

    The "code to execute" runs when the statement is true, but the "else" statement executes alternative instructions if the statement is false. This allows the programmer to execute blocks of code for either conditional result.


  • Conditional statements can introduce logic errors into code. It's important to run your code in the debugger, and test software to ensure the logic in the conditions are accurate. Conditional statements can be watched in the debugger using stop points or "breaks." These breaks stop execution of your code, so you can view the value of variables and watch each statement execution enter the conditional statement.


  • Avoid using long blocks of "if" statements. Several "if" statements in one section of code makes it difficult to edit and troubleshoot. If several "if" statements are used in a function, consider breaking the one function into several others to make the code more readable and easier to follow execution flow.

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