[spoiler title=”Lesson Video”]
Direct Download of Video (For mobile / offline viewing)(right click > save target as)


[spoiler title=”Lesson Source Code”]

using namespace std;
int main(){
	//"Hello World"
	//Get strings with spaces
	//Compare Strings
	//Show in debugger
	//"Chars" and strings
	string str = "", str2 = "";
	cout << "Enter a string: ";
	//cin >> str; //Breaks on whitespace, this is WRONG
	getline(cin, str);
	cout << "Enter a  Second string: ";
	//cin >> str; //Breaks on whitespace, this is WRONG
	getline(cin, str2);
	/*if ( str[0] == 'H' ){
		cout << "H Found" << endl;
	//str = BBB
	//str2 = AAA
	// A < B
	if (str.compare(str2) < 0){
		cout << "str: " << str << " is before str2 in the alphabet: " << str2;
	if (str.compare(str2) > 0){
		cout << "str: " << str << " is after str2 in the alphabet: " << str2;
	if (str.compare(str2) == 0){
		cout << "str: " << str << " is Equal To : " << str2;
	cout << endl;
	return 0;


Homework: None

What is a string?
A string is technically an object, but to be more straight-forward it's a collection of single characters (for example char c = 'A'; could be in a string) that has different functions available to act upon them. This 'collection' of same-type variables is known as an array, and while a string is technically an array of characters, it does have other attributes that distinguish it from a simple character array.

Functions related to string
So strings are different than normal variables, and even their counterpart char arrays (which I will not be teaching since strings are vastly superior in essentially every way). They can be loaded using cin >> stringName, but it's not advisable. The reason why is because cin "breaks" (stops reading) on white-space. Strings are absolutely allowed to have white space in them (you can put virtually anything into a string). As a result to load a string with multiple words / numbers / symbols, we are going to use:

getline(cin,stringName); //Reads a line of user-entered input

This code will get an entire "line" (Until enter is hit) and put it into the string (stringName in the example above).

String itself has a number of handy functions in it. It allows for "random access", which means that we can easily view a single character in a string (similarly to how we would do so with an array in a few more lessons). To view a single letter using this method you could use the following code:

//String Random Access
string hello = "Hi There";
cout << hello[0] << endl; //H
cout << hello[1] << endl; //i
cout << hello[2] << endl; //Space

Random access means that we can access any item inside of the array without having to iterate through others first. We will get more into random access when we talk about container types without random access later on.

Using compare in string is one of the first times that I've used an object function in this series, so there are subtle syntax points that I want to touch on here. First off, let's talk about the usage of string.compare() since I did make a small error in the video.

string word  = "Apple";
string word2 = "Orange";

if(word.compare(word2) < 0){
    //Word comes before word2 in the alphabet or they are equal and word is shorter in length
    cout << word << " is before " << word2 << " in the alphabet;
if(word.compare(word2) == 0){
    //Word and word2 are equal
    cout << word << " is equal to " << word2 << ;
if(word.compare(word2) > 0){
    //Word comes after word2 in the alphabet (or they are equal and word is longer)
    cout << word << " is after " << word2 << " in the alphabet";


Output: Apple is before Orange in the alphabet

A few subtle things to notice

  • There is a different bit of syntax than we've seen in the past. There is a . followed by a function name, then the arguments we're passing it.
  • The .comes after what is a "normal variable". This is because strings are actually objects
  • In the future (lesson 21 or 22) when we cover classes, this is a universal topic. Object functions will be called via dot operators.
Last modified: December 15, 2015