16 Preprocessing directives [cpp]

16.3 Macro replacement [cpp.replace]

16.3.3 The ## operator [cpp.concat]

A ## preprocessing token shall not occur at the beginning or at the end of a replacement list for either form of macro definition.

If, in the replacement list of a function-like macro, a parameter is immediately preceded or followed by a ## preprocessing token, the parameter is replaced by the corresponding argument's preprocessing token sequence; however, if an argument consists of no preprocessing tokens, the parameter is replaced by a placemarker preprocessing token instead.156

For both object-like and function-like macro invocations, before the replacement list is reexamined for more macro names to replace, each instance of a ## preprocessing token in the replacement list (not from an argument) is deleted and the preceding preprocessing token is concatenated with the following preprocessing token. Placemarker preprocessing tokens are handled specially: concatenation of two placemarkers results in a single placemarker preprocessing token, and concatenation of a placemarker with a non-placemarker preprocessing token results in the non-placemarker preprocessing token. If the result is not a valid preprocessing token, the behavior is undefined. The resulting token is available for further macro replacement. The order of evaluation of ## operators is unspecified.

Example: In the following fragment:

#define hash_hash # ## #
#define mkstr(a) # a
#define in_between(a) mkstr(a)
#define join(c, d) in_between(c hash_hash d)
char p[] = join(x, y);          // equivalent to
                                // char p[] = "x ## y";

The expansion produces, at various stages:

join(x, y)
in_between(x hash_hash y)
in_between(x ## y)
mkstr(x ## y)
"x ## y"

In other words, expanding hash_hash produces a new token, consisting of two adjacent sharp signs, but this new token is not the ## operator.  — end example ]

Placemarker preprocessing tokens do not appear in the syntax because they are temporary entities that exist only within translation phase 4.