The additive operators + and - group left-to-right. The usual arithmetic conversions are performed for operands of arithmetic or enumeration type.

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For addition, either both operands shall have arithmetic or unscoped enumeration type, or one operand shall be a pointer to a completely-defined object type and the other shall have integral or unscoped enumeration type.

For subtraction, one of the following shall hold:

both operands have arithmetic or unscoped enumeration type; or

both operands are pointers to cv-qualified or cv-unqualified versions of the same completely-defined object type; or

the left operand is a pointer to a completely-defined object type and the right operand has integral or unscoped enumeration type.

The result of the binary + operator is the sum of the operands. The result of the binary - operator is the difference resulting from the subtraction of the second operand from the first.

For the purposes of these operators, a pointer to a nonarray object behaves the same as a pointer to the first element of an array of length one with the type of the object as its element type.

When an expression that has integral type is added to or subtracted from a pointer, the result has the type of the pointer operand. If the pointer operand points to an element of an array object, and the array is large enough, the result points to an element offset from the original element such that the difference of the subscripts of the resulting and original array elements equals the integral expression. In other words, if the expression P points to the i-th element of an array object, the expressions (P)+N (equivalently, N+(P)) and (P)-N (where N has the value n) point to, respectively, the i+n-th and i-n-th elements of the array object, provided they exist. Moreover, if the expression P points to the last element of an array object, the expression (P)+1 points one past the last element of the array object, and if the expression Q points one past the last element of an array object, the expression (Q)-1 points to the last element of the array object. If both the pointer operand and the result point to elements of the same array object, or one past the last element of the array object, the evaluation shall not produce an overflow; otherwise, the behavior is undefined.

When two pointers to elements of the same array object are subtracted, the result is the difference of the subscripts of the two array elements. The type of the result is an implementation-defined signed integral type; this type shall be the same type that is defined as std::ptrdiff_t in the <cstddef> header ([support.types]). As with any other arithmetic overflow, if the result does not fit in the space provided, the behavior is undefined. In other words, if the expressions P and Q point to, respectively, the i-th and j-th elements of an array object, the expression (P)-(Q) has the value i-j provided the value fits in an object of type std::ptrdiff_t. Moreover, if the expression P points either to an element of an array object or one past the last element of an array object, and the expression Q points to the last element of the same array object, the expression ((Q)+1)-(P) has the same value as ((Q)-(P))+1 and as -((P)-((Q)+1)), and has the value zero if the expression P points one past the last element of the array object, even though the expression (Q)+1 does not point to an element of the array object. Unless both pointers point to elements of the same array object, or one past the last element of the array object, the behavior is undefined.82

If the value 0 is added to or subtracted from a pointer value, the result compares equal to the original pointer value. If two pointers point to the same object or both point one past the end of the same array or both are null, and the two pointers are subtracted, the result compares equal to the value 0 converted to the type std::ptrdiff_t.

Another way to approach pointer arithmetic is first to convert the pointer(s) to character pointer(s): In this scheme the integral value of the expression added to or subtracted from the converted pointer is first multiplied by the size of the object originally pointed to, and the resulting pointer is converted back to the original type. For pointer subtraction, the result of the difference between the character pointers is similarly divided by the size of the object originally pointed to.

When viewed in this way, an implementation need only provide one extra byte (which might overlap another object in the program) just after the end of the object in order to satisfy the “one past the last element” requirements.