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Ternary Operator in C

Last Updated on September 22, 2023 by Mayank Dham

Determining the fastest sorting algorithm is not a straightforward task, as it heavily depends on the specific context in which the sorting is performed. Algorithms like Quick Sort, Merge Sort, and Heap Sort have shown remarkable speed under certain conditions. However, the efficiency of a sorting algorithm is influenced by various factors such as input size, data distribution, memory usage, and implementation details. What is considered the fastest can change based on the requirements of the problem at hand. Choosing the right sorting algorithm involves understanding these factors and selecting an algorithm that aligns with the specific characteristics of the data and the desired performance trade-offs.

What is a Ternary Operator in C

The ternary operator in c is a way to shorten the if-else block. So before moving further in the article we recommend you first go through if-else statements if you are a beginner in programming.

The ternary operator in c consists of three arguments:-

  1. The first argument in the ternary operator in c is a condition.
  2. The second argument in the ternary operator in c is an expression that is executed when a condition is true.
  3. The last argument in the ternary operator in c is also an expression that is executed when the condition is false.

So, we can say the ternary operator in c allows us to execute a different piece of code depending on the first argument,i.e on condition.

Syntax of Ternary Operator in C

Syntax: (condition)? expression1 : expression2;

Working of Syntax:

  • If the condition in the ternary operator is true, then the expression1 executes.
  • If the condition is false, then the expression2 executes.

The following example explains the working of the Ternary Operator in C.

int minNumber = 25 < 15 ? 25: 15;

So, if the condition 25 < 15 is true then the variable minNumber is initialized with 25 otherwise 15. As the condition is false our variable minNumber is initialized with 15. This is how the ternary operator works.

Point to remember: Ternary operators in c, like if-else, can also be nested.

Flow Chart for the Ternary Operator in C

The flow chart for a ternary operator in c looks like this:

Let us understand this flow chart of a ternary operator in c:-

Imagine we are given a ternary statement - condition? expression1: expression2, if our condition is true then control flow to expression1.Similarly, if our condition is false then control flow to expression2. Either one of the expressions gets executed and we get our result.

Example of How Ternary Operator works in C
These examples will teach you how the ternary operator in C works:

Find out the maximum number in the given two numbers using the ternary operator in c.
Given:- x = -25 , y = -50

Code Implementation:

#include <stdio.h>

int main(void) {
    int x = -25,y = -50;
    // implementing ternary operator
    int maxNum = x>y ? x : y;
    return 0;



In the above code, we are going to find the max number between two given numbers by using the ternary operator in c.To do the same, we applied the condition x > y which compares the given two numbers and based on the result, it’s going to print the max number.

Example- 2
Find out whether the given number is odd or not using Ternary Operator in C.
Given:- n = 23

Code Implementation:

#include <stdio.h>

int main(void) {
    // given
    int n = 23;
    // ternary operator
    (n % 2 == 1) ? printf("Number is Odd") : printf("Number is not Odd");
    return 0;

The output obtained from the example will be:

Number is Odd

Point to Note: Always remember that the expression1 and expression2 arguments must be of the same type. Also, they should be very simple expressions.


  • The ternary operator is a way to shorten the if-else block of code.
  • The symbol used to represent the ternary operator in c is ? :.
  • In C, the ternary operator is used to increase compiler efficiency.
  • The ternary operator is also called the Conditional operator.

Pros of using Ternary Operators in C

  • Ternary operator reduces the complexity of code.
  • Code becomes very easy to read, alter and manage in the long run.
  • Using the ternary operator in c, it is very easy to identify and edit any present errors in the code.

Cons of using Ternary Operator in C
A ternary operator does not have any return type. The return type depends entirely on the convertibility of the expressions. In any other given case, the compiler will throw an error.

The ternary operator in C offers a concise and elegant approach to writing conditional expressions. Its ability to replace simple if-else statements with a single line of code enhances code readability and can lead to more efficient program design. However, it's essential to use the ternary operator judiciously, as complex expressions can decrease code clarity. By mastering the ternary operator, C programmers can efficiently express conditional logic while maintaining code simplicity and conciseness.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) related to Ternary Operator in C

Here is the list of the FAQs related to Ternary Operator in C.

Q1: What is the ternary operator in C?
The ternary operator, represented as condition ? expression1 : expression2, is a shorthand way to write simple conditional statements in C. It evaluates the condition, and if true, returns the value of expression1; if false, it returns the value of expression2.

Q2: How does the ternary operator work?
The ternary operator evaluates a condition. If the condition is true, it returns the value of the first expression; otherwise, it returns the value of the second expression. It's a compact way to replace simple if-else statements.

Q3: What are the benefits of using the ternary operator?
The ternary operator allows for more concise code compared to if-else constructs. It's particularly useful when making simple decisions based on a condition, reducing the need for multiple lines of code.

Q4: Are there any limitations to using the ternary operator?
While the ternary operator is concise, it can become difficult to read if the expressions are complex. It's best suited for simple conditional cases. More complex scenarios might benefit from traditional if-else constructs for better code clarity.

Q5: Can I nest ternary operators?
Yes, ternary operators can be nested, but excessive nesting can quickly lead to code that is difficult to read and understand. It's recommended to use nested ternary operators sparingly and consider using if-else statements for more complex cases.

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