10 Declarations [dcl.dcl]

10.1 Specifiers [dcl.spec]

10.1.7 Type specifiers [dcl.type]

The type-specifiers are

	type-specifier attribute-specifier-seqopt
	type-specifier type-specifier-seq
	defining-type-specifier attribute-specifier-seqopt
	defining-type-specifier defining-type-specifier-seq

The optional attribute-specifier-seq in a type-specifier-seq or a defining-type-specifier-seq appertains to the type denoted by the preceding type-specifiers or defining-type-specifiers ([dcl.meaning]). The attribute-specifier-seq affects the type only for the declaration it appears in, not other declarations involving the same type.

As a general rule, at most one defining-type-specifier is allowed in the complete decl-specifier-seq of a declaration or in a defining-type-specifier-seq, and at most one type-specifier is allowed in a type-specifier-seq. The only exceptions to this rule are the following:

Except in a declaration of a constructor, destructor, or conversion function, at least one defining-type-specifier that is not a cv-qualifier shall appear in a complete type-specifier-seq or a complete decl-specifier-seq.95

[Note: enum-specifiers, class-specifiers, and typename-specifiers are discussed in [dcl.enum], Clause [class], and [temp.res], respectively. The remaining type-specifiers are discussed in the rest of this section. end note]

There is no special provision for a decl-specifier-seq that lacks a type-specifier or that has a type-specifier that only specifies cv-qualifiers. The “implicit int” rule of C is no longer supported. The cv-qualifiers [dcl.type.cv]

There are two cv-qualifiers, const and volatile. Each cv-qualifier shall appear at most once in a cv-qualifier-seq. If a cv-qualifier appears in a decl-specifier-seq, the init-declarator-list or member-declarator-list of the declaration shall not be empty. [Note: [basic.type.qualifier] and [dcl.fct] describe how cv-qualifiers affect object and function types. end note] Redundant cv-qualifications are ignored. [Note: For example, these could be introduced by typedefs.end note]

[Note: Declaring a variable const can affect its linkage ([dcl.stc]) and its usability in constant expressions. As described in [dcl.init], the definition of an object or subobject of const-qualified type must specify an initializer or be subject to default-initialization. end note]

A pointer or reference to a cv-qualified type need not actually point or refer to a cv-qualified object, but it is treated as if it does; a const-qualified access path cannot be used to modify an object even if the object referenced is a non-const object and can be modified through some other access path. [Note: Cv-qualifiers are supported by the type system so that they cannot be subverted without casting. end note]

Except that any class member declared mutable can be modified, any attempt to modify a const object during its lifetime results in undefined behavior. [Example:

const int ci = 3;                       // cv-qualified (initialized as required)
ci = 4;                                 // ill-formed: attempt to modify const

int i = 2;                              // not cv-qualified
const int* cip;                         // pointer to const int
cip = &i;                               // OK: cv-qualified access path to unqualified
*cip = 4;                               // ill-formed: attempt to modify through ptr to const

int* ip;
ip = const_cast<int*>(cip);             // cast needed to convert const int* to int*
*ip = 4;                                // defined: *ip points to i, a non-const object

const int* ciq = new const int (3);     // initialized as required
int* iq = const_cast<int*>(ciq);        // cast required
*iq = 4;                                // undefined: modifies a const object

For another example,

struct X {
  mutable int i;
  int j;
struct Y {
  X x;

const Y y;
y.x.i++;                                // well-formed: mutable member can be modified
y.x.j++;                                // ill-formed: const-qualified member modified
Y* p = const_cast<Y*>(&y);              // cast away const-ness of y
p->x.i = 99;                            // well-formed: mutable member can be modified
p->x.j = 99;                            // undefined: modifies a const member

end example]

The semantics of an access through a volatile glvalue are implementation-defined. If an attempt is made to access an object defined with a volatile-qualified type through the use of a non-volatile glvalue, the behavior is undefined.

[Note: volatile is a hint to the implementation to avoid aggressive optimization involving the object because the value of the object might be changed by means undetectable by an implementation. Furthermore, for some implementations, volatile might indicate that special hardware instructions are required to access the object. See [intro.execution] for detailed semantics. In general, the semantics of volatile are intended to be the same in C++ as they are in C. end note] Simple type specifiers [dcl.type.simple]

The simple type specifiers are

	nested-name-specifieropt type-name
	nested-name-specifier template simple-template-id
	nested-name-specifieropt template-name
	decltype ( expression )
	decltype ( auto )

The simple-type-specifier auto is a placeholder for a type to be deduced ([dcl.spec.auto]). A type-specifier of the form typenameopt nested-name-specifieropt template-name is a placeholder for a deduced class type ([dcl.type.class.deduct]). The template-name shall name a class template that is not an injected-class-name. The other simple-type-specifiers specify either a previously-declared type, a type determined from an expression, or one of the fundamental types. Table 11 summarizes the valid combinations of simple-type-specifiers and the types they specify.

Table 11simple-type-specifiers and the types they specify
Specifier(s) Type
type-name the type named
simple-template-id the type as defined in [temp.names]
template-name placeholder for a type to be deduced
char “char”
unsigned char “unsigned char”
signed char “signed char”
char16_t “char16_t”
char32_t “char32_t”
bool “bool”
unsigned “unsigned int”
unsigned int “unsigned int”
signed “int”
signed int “int”
int “int”
unsigned short int “unsigned short int”
unsigned short “unsigned short int”
unsigned long int “unsigned long int”
unsigned long “unsigned long int”
unsigned long long int “unsigned long long int”
unsigned long long “unsigned long long int”
signed long int “long int”
signed long “long int”
signed long long int “long long int”
signed long long “long long int”
long long int “long long int”
long long “long long int”
long int “long int”
long “long int”
signed short int “short int”
signed short “short int”
short int “short int”
short “short int”
wchar_t “wchar_t”
float “float”
double “double”
long double “long double”
void “void”
auto placeholder for a type to be deduced
decltype(auto) placeholder for a type to be deduced
decltype(expression) the type as defined below

When multiple simple-type-specifiers are allowed, they can be freely intermixed with other decl-specifiers in any order. [Note: It is implementation-defined whether objects of char type are represented as signed or unsigned quantities. The signed specifier forces char objects to be signed; it is redundant in other contexts. end note]

For an expression e, the type denoted by decltype(e) is defined as follows:

  • if e is an unparenthesized id-expression naming a structured binding ([dcl.struct.bind]), decltype(e) is the referenced type as given in the specification of the structured binding declaration;

  • otherwise, if e is an unparenthesized id-expression or an unparenthesized class member access, decltype(e) is the type of the entity named by e. If there is no such entity, or if e names a set of overloaded functions, the program is ill-formed;

  • otherwise, if e is an xvalue, decltype(e) is T&&, where T is the type of e;

  • otherwise, if e is an lvalue, decltype(e) is T&, where T is the type of e;

  • otherwise, decltype(e) is the type of e.

The operand of the decltype specifier is an unevaluated operand.


const int&& foo();
int i;
struct A { double x; };
const A* a = new A();
decltype(foo()) x1 = 17;        // type is const int&&
decltype(i) x2;                 // type is int
decltype(a->x) x3;              // type is double
decltype((a->x)) x4 = x3;       // type is const double&

end example] [Note: The rules for determining types involving decltype(auto) are specified in [dcl.spec.auto]. end note]

If the operand of a decltype-specifier is a prvalue, the temporary materialization conversion is not applied and no result object is provided for the prvalue. The type of the prvalue may be incomplete. [Note: As a result, storage is not allocated for the prvalue and it is not destroyed. Thus, a class type is not instantiated as a result of being the type of a function call in this context. In this context, the common purpose of writing the expression is merely to refer to its type. In that sense, a decltype-specifier is analogous to a use of a typedef-name, so the usual reasons for requiring a complete type do not apply. In particular, it is not necessary to allocate storage for a temporary object or to enforce the semantic constraints associated with invoking the type's destructor. end note] [Note: Unlike the preceding rule, parentheses have no special meaning in this context. end note] [Example:

template<class T> struct A { ~A() = delete; };
template<class T> auto h()
  -> A<T>;
template<class T> auto i(T)     // identity
  -> T;
template<class T> auto f(T)     // #1
  -> decltype(i(h<T>()));       // forces completion of A<T> and implicitly uses A<T>​::​~A()
                                // for the temporary introduced by the use of h().
                                // (A temporary is not introduced as a result of the use of i().)
template<class T> auto f(T)     // #2
  -> void;
auto g() -> void {
  f(42);                        // OK: calls #2. (#1 is not a viable candidate: type deduction
                                // fails ([temp.deduct]) because A<int>​::​~A() is implicitly used in its
                                // decltype-specifier)
template<class T> auto q(T)
  -> decltype((h<T>()));        // does not force completion of A<T>; A<T>​::​~A() is not implicitly
                                // used within the context of this decltype-specifier
void r() {
  q(42);                        // Error: deduction against q succeeds, so overload resolution selects
                                // the specialization “q(T) -> decltype((h<T>())) [with T=int]”.
                                // The return type is A<int>, so a temporary is introduced and its
                                // destructor is used, so the program is ill-formed.

end example] Elaborated type specifiers [dcl.type.elab]

	class-key attribute-specifier-seqopt nested-name-specifieropt identifier
	class-key simple-template-id
	class-key nested-name-specifier templateopt simple-template-id
	enum nested-name-specifieropt identifier

An attribute-specifier-seq shall not appear in an elaborated-type-specifier unless the latter is the sole constituent of a declaration. If an elaborated-type-specifier is the sole constituent of a declaration, the declaration is ill-formed unless it is an explicit specialization, an explicit instantiation or it has one of the following forms:

class-key attribute-specifier-seqopt identifier ;
friend class-key ::opt identifier ;
friend class-key ::opt simple-template-id ;
friend class-key nested-name-specifier identifier ;
friend class-key nested-name-specifier templateopt simple-template-id ;

In the first case, the attribute-specifier-seq, if any, appertains to the class being declared; the attributes in the attribute-specifier-seq are thereafter considered attributes of the class whenever it is named.

[basic.lookup.elab] describes how name lookup proceeds for the identifier in an elaborated-type-specifier. If the identifier resolves to a class-name or enum-name, the elaborated-type-specifier introduces it into the declaration the same way a simple-type-specifier introduces its type-name. If the identifier resolves to a typedef-name or the simple-template-id resolves to an alias template specialization, the elaborated-type-specifier is ill-formed. [Note: This implies that, within a class template with a template type-parameter T, the declaration

friend class T;

is ill-formed. However, the similar declaration friend T; is allowed ([class.friend]). end note]

The class-key or enum keyword present in the elaborated-type-specifier shall agree in kind with the declaration to which the name in the elaborated-type-specifier refers. This rule also applies to the form of elaborated-type-specifier that declares a class-name or friend class since it can be construed as referring to the definition of the class. Thus, in any elaborated-type-specifier, the enum keyword shall be used to refer to an enumeration, the union class-key shall be used to refer to a union, and either the class or struct class-key shall be used to refer to a class declared using the class or struct class-key. [Example:

enum class E { a, b };
enum E x = E::a;                // OK

end example] The auto specifier [dcl.spec.auto]

The auto and decltype(auto) type-specifiers are used to designate a placeholder type that will be replaced later by deduction from an initializer. The auto type-specifier is also used to introduce a function type having a trailing-return-type or to signify that a lambda is a generic lambda ([expr.prim.lambda.closure]). The auto type-specifier is also used to introduce a structured binding declaration.

The placeholder type can appear with a function declarator in the decl-specifier-seq, type-specifier-seq, conversion-function-id, or trailing-return-type, in any context where such a declarator is valid. If the function declarator includes a trailing-return-type ([dcl.fct]), that trailing-return-type specifies the declared return type of the function. Otherwise, the function declarator shall declare a function. If the declared return type of the function contains a placeholder type, the return type of the function is deduced from non-discarded return statements, if any, in the body of the function ([stmt.if]).

If the auto type-specifier appears as one of the decl-specifiers in the decl-specifier-seq of a parameter-declaration of a lambda-expression, the lambda is a generic lambda ([expr.prim.lambda.closure]). [Example:

auto glambda = [](int i, auto a) { return i; };     // OK: a generic lambda

end example]

The type of a variable declared using auto or decltype(auto) is deduced from its initializer. This use is allowed in an initializing declaration ([dcl.init]) of a variable. auto or decltype(auto) shall appear as one of the decl-specifiers in the decl-specifier-seq and the decl-specifier-seq shall be followed by one or more declarators, each of which shall be followed by a non-empty initializer. In an initializer of the form

( expression-list )

the expression-list shall be a single assignment-expression. [Example:

auto x = 5;                     // OK: x has type int
const auto *v = &x, u = 6;      // OK: v has type const int*, u has type const int
static auto y = 0.0;            // OK: y has type double
auto int r;                     // error: auto is not a storage-class-specifier
auto f() -> int;                // OK: f returns int
auto g() { return 0.0; }        // OK: g returns double
auto h();                       // OK: h's return type will be deduced when it is defined

end example]

A placeholder type can also be used in the type-specifier-seq in the new-type-id or type-id of a new-expression and as a decl-specifier of the parameter-declaration's decl-specifier-seq in a template-parameter.

A program that uses auto or decltype(auto) in a context not explicitly allowed in this section is ill-formed.

If the init-declarator-list contains more than one init-declarator, they shall all form declarations of variables. The type of each declared variable is determined by placeholder type deduction, and if the type that replaces the placeholder type is not the same in each deduction, the program is ill-formed.


auto x = 5, *y = &x;            // OK: auto is int
auto a = 5, b = { 1, 2 };       // error: different types for auto

end example]

If a function with a declared return type that contains a placeholder type has multiple non-discarded return statements, the return type is deduced for each such return statement. If the type deduced is not the same in each deduction, the program is ill-formed.

If a function with a declared return type that uses a placeholder type has no non-discarded return statements, the return type is deduced as though from a return statement with no operand at the closing brace of the function body. [Example:

auto  f() { }                   // OK, return type is void
auto* g() { }                   // error, cannot deduce auto* from void()

end example]

If the type of an entity with an undeduced placeholder type is needed to determine the type of an expression, the program is ill-formed. Once a non-discarded return statement has been seen in a function, however, the return type deduced from that statement can be used in the rest of the function, including in other return statements. [Example:

auto n = n;                     // error, n's type is unknown
auto f();
void g() { &f; }                // error, f's return type is unknown
auto sum(int i) {
  if (i == 1)
    return i;                   // sum's return type is int
    return sum(i-1)+i;          // OK, sum's return type has been deduced

end example]

Return type deduction for a function template with a placeholder in its declared type occurs when the definition is instantiated even if the function body contains a return statement with a non-type-dependent operand. [Note: Therefore, any use of a specialization of the function template will cause an implicit instantiation. Any errors that arise from this instantiation are not in the immediate context of the function type and can result in the program being ill-formed ([temp.deduct]). end note] [Example:

template <class T> auto f(T t) { return t; }    // return type deduced at instantiation time
typedef decltype(f(1)) fint_t;                  // instantiates f<int> to deduce return type
template<class T> auto f(T* t) { return *t; }
void g() { int (*p)(int*) = &f; }               // instantiates both fs to determine return types,
                                                // chooses second

end example]

Redeclarations or specializations of a function or function template with a declared return type that uses a placeholder type shall also use that placeholder, not a deduced type. [Example:

auto f();
auto f() { return 42; }                         // return type is int
auto f();                                       // OK
int f();                                        // error, cannot be overloaded with auto f()
decltype(auto) f();                             // error, auto and decltype(auto) don't match

template <typename T> auto g(T t) { return t; } // #1
template auto g(int);                           // OK, return type is int
template char g(char);                          // error, no matching template
template<> auto g(double);                      // OK, forward declaration with unknown return type

template <class T> T g(T t) { return t; }       // OK, not functionally equivalent to #1
template char g(char);                          // OK, now there is a matching template
template auto g(float);                         // still matches #1

void h() { return g(42); }                      // error, ambiguous

template <typename T> struct A {
  friend T frf(T);
auto frf(int i) { return i; }                   // not a friend of A<int>

end example]

A function declared with a return type that uses a placeholder type shall not be virtual.

An explicit instantiation declaration does not cause the instantiation of an entity declared using a placeholder type, but it also does not prevent that entity from being instantiated as needed to determine its type. [Example:

template <typename T> auto f(T t) { return t; }
extern template auto f(int);    // does not instantiate f<int>
int (*p)(int) = f;              // instantiates f<int> to determine its return type, but an explicit
                                // instantiation definition is still required somewhere in the program

end example] Placeholder type deduction [dcl.type.auto.deduct]

Placeholder type deduction is the process by which a type containing a placeholder type is replaced by a deduced type.

A type T containing a placeholder type, and a corresponding initializer e, are determined as follows:

  • for a non-discarded return statement that occurs in a function declared with a return type that contains a placeholder type, T is the declared return type and e is the operand of the return statement. If the return statement has no operand, then e is void();

  • for a variable declared with a type that contains a placeholder type, T is the declared type of the variable and e is the initializer. If the initialization is direct-list-initialization, the initializer shall be a braced-init-list containing only a single assignment-expression and e is the assignment-expression;

  • for a non-type template parameter declared with a type that contains a placeholder type, T is the declared type of the non-type template parameter and e is the corresponding template argument.

In the case of a return statement with no operand or with an operand of type void, T shall be either decltype(auto) or cv auto.

If the deduction is for a return statement and e is a braced-init-list ([dcl.init.list]), the program is ill-formed.

If the placeholder is the auto type-specifier, the deduced type T' replacing T is determined using the rules for template argument deduction. Obtain P from T by replacing the occurrences of auto with either a new invented type template parameter U or, if the initialization is copy-list-initialization, with std​::​initializer_­list<U>. Deduce a value for U using the rules of template argument deduction from a function call, where P is a function template parameter type and the corresponding argument is e. If the deduction fails, the declaration is ill-formed. Otherwise, T' is obtained by substituting the deduced U into P. [Example:

auto x1 = { 1, 2 };             // decltype(x1) is std​::​initializer_­list<int>
auto x2 = { 1, 2.0 };           // error: cannot deduce element type
auto x3{ 1, 2 };                // error: not a single element
auto x4 = { 3 };                // decltype(x4) is std​::​initializer_­list<int>
auto x5{ 3 };                   // decltype(x5) is int

end example]


const auto &i = expr;

The type of i is the deduced type of the parameter u in the call f(expr) of the following invented function template:

template <class U> void f(const U& u);

end example]

If the placeholder is the decltype(auto) type-specifier, T shall be the placeholder alone. The type deduced for T is determined as described in [dcl.type.simple], as though e had been the operand of the decltype. [Example:

int i;
int&& f();
auto           x2a(i);          // decltype(x2a) is int
decltype(auto) x2d(i);          // decltype(x2d) is int
auto           x3a = i;         // decltype(x3a) is int
decltype(auto) x3d = i;         // decltype(x3d) is int
auto           x4a = (i);       // decltype(x4a) is int
decltype(auto) x4d = (i);       // decltype(x4d) is int&
auto           x5a = f();       // decltype(x5a) is int
decltype(auto) x5d = f();       // decltype(x5d) is int&&
auto           x6a = { 1, 2 };  // decltype(x6a) is std​::​initializer_­list<int>
decltype(auto) x6d = { 1, 2 };  // error, { 1, 2 } is not an expression
auto          *x7a = &i;        // decltype(x7a) is int*
decltype(auto)*x7d = &i;        // error, declared type is not plain decltype(auto)

end example] Deduced class template specialization types [dcl.type.class.deduct]

If a placeholder for a deduced class type appears as a decl-specifier in the decl-specifier-seq of an initializing declaration ([dcl.init]) of a variable, the placeholder is replaced by the return type of the function selected by overload resolution for class template deduction ([over.match.class.deduct]). If the decl-specifier-seq is followed by an init-declarator-list or member-declarator-list containing more than one declarator, the type that replaces the placeholder shall be the same in each deduction.

A placeholder for a deduced class type can also be used in the type-specifier-seq in the new-type-id or type-id of a new-expression, or as the simple-type-specifier in an explicit type conversion (functional notation) ([expr.type.conv]). A placeholder for a deduced class type shall not appear in any other context.


template<class T> struct container {
    container(T t) {}
    template<class Iter> container(Iter beg, Iter end);
template<class Iter>
container(Iter b, Iter e) -> container<typename std::iterator_traits<Iter>::value_type>;
std::vector<double> v = { /* ... */ };

container c(7);                         // OK, deduces int for T
auto d = container(v.begin(), v.end()); // OK, deduces double for T
container e{5, 6};                      // error, int is not an iterator

end example]