What happens when a pointer msgPtr which points to a string is assigned the value of a different pointer oldPtr?


  • A pointer is a variable that contains the address of a variable. Pointers are much used in C, partly because they are sometimes the only way to express a computation, and partly because they usually lead to more compact and efficient code than can be obtained in other ways. Pointers and arrays are closely related;
  • Pointers are used to access memory and manipulate memory addresses.

Now to answer the above question, consider the code below:

#include <stdio.h>

int main(void){
	char *msgPtr = "now is the time";
	char *oldPtr = "old pointer";

	msgPtr = oldPtr;

	printf("msgPtr: %s\n", msgPtr);	
        printf("oldPtr: %s\n", oldPtr);	
	printf("\n\nThe address of msgPtr = %d", *msgPtr);
	printf("\n\nThe address of oldPtr = %d\n", *oldPtr);

	return 0;

When you compile and execute the above program it produces the following result on Linux:

Case 1: Without assignment i.e comment line msgPtr = oldPtr

	msgPtr: now is the time
	oldPtr: old pointer

	The address of msgPtr = 110

	The address of oldPtr = 111

Case 1: With assignment i.e uncomment line msgPtr = oldPtr

	msgPtr: old pointer
	oldPtr: old pointer

	The address of msgPtr = 111

	The address of oldPtr = 111

From the above demo, you can see that after the assignment, msgPtr now points to the character array pointed to by oldPtr. They point to the same location.

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