[ACCEPTED]-Difference between period and comma when concatenating with echo versus return?-language-construct

Accepted answer
Score: 72

return does only allow one single expression. But 5 echo allows a list of expressions where each 4 expression is separated by a comma. But 3 note that since echo is not a function but a 2 special language construct, wrapping the 1 expression list in parenthesis is illegal.

Score: 41

You also have to note that echo as a construct 9 is faster with commas than it is with dots.

So if you join 8 a character 4 million times this is what 7 you get:

echo $str1, $str2, $str3;

About 2.08 seconds

echo 6 $str1 . $str2 . $str3;

About 3.48 seconds

It almost 5 takes half the time as you can see above.

This 4 is because PHP with dots joins the string 3 first and then outputs them, while with commas 2 just prints them out one after the other.

We 1 are talking about fractions, but still.

Original Source

Score: 20

The . is the concatenation operator in PHP, for 2 putting two strings together.

The comma can 1 be used for multiple inputs to echo.

Score: 11

Dot (.) is for concatenation of a variable 8 or string. This is why it works when you 7 echo while concatenating two strings, and 6 it works when you return a concatenation 5 of a string in a method. But the comma doesn't 4 concatenate and this is why the return statement 3 won't work.

echo is a language construct that 2 can take multiple expressions which is why 1 the comma works:

void echo ( string $arg1  [, string $...  ] )

Use the dot for concatenation.

Score: 7

echo is a language construct (not a function) and 5 can take multiple arguments, that's why 4 , works. using comma will be slightly even 3 (but only some nanoseconds, nothing to worry 2 about)

. is the concatenation operator (the 1 glue) for strings

Score: 5

echo is actually a function (not really, but 9 let's say it is for the sake of argument) that 8 takes any number of parameters and will 7 concatenate them together.

While return is not 6 a function, but rather a keyword, that tells 5 the function to return the value, and it 4 is trying to interpret , as some kind of 3 operator. You should be using . as the concatenation 2 operator in the case when you are using 1 the return statement.

Score: 4

It's worth mentioning that the concatenation 23 operator . has a higher precedence than lots 22 of other operators and has equal precedence 21 with + and - operators

Why this is important?

Well, talk is cheap 20 let me show you the code ( from PHP documentation)

$x = 4;
// this line might result in unexpected output:
echo "x minus one equals " . $x-1 . ", or so I hope\n";
// because it is evaluated like this line:
echo (("x minus one equals " . $x) - 1) . ", or so I hope\n";
// the desired precedence can be enforced by using parentheses:
echo "x minus one equals " . ($x-1) . ", or so I hope\n";

In fact, the 19 first line will issue a deprecation message 18 as of PHP 7.4.0

Deprecated: The behavior 17 of unparenthesized expressions containing both 16 '.' and '+'/'-' will change in PHP 8: '+'/'-' will 15 take a higher precedence

So in PHP 8 it 14 seems the problem of associativity in this 13 case will be solved by giving + and - operators 12 a higher precedence.

So can we say now that . and , when using echo give the same result?

No, they will not always give the same result

Let's take this case 11 for example

echo ' Here\'s ' . $name ?? 'Johnny';

Here we used the Null coalescing operator so if $name 10 exists and is not NULL it'll be returned 9 otherwise it returns Johnny. At first glance, one 8 may think the result will be Here's Johnny since $name 7 is not defined or so they hope.

Actually 6 the result will be

PHP Notice:  Undefined variable: name

What happened here is 5 that ?? operator has a lower precedence than 4 the . which means PHP will try to evaluate 3 (Here's $name) first.

You can solve this by either enclosing 2 the expression in parentheses

echo ' Here\'s ' . ($name ?? 'Johnny');

Or simply use 1 a comma.

echo ' Here\'s ' , $name ?? 'Johnny';
Score: 0

In contrast with Mr.Web's answer PHP in 2022 is faster with the dots.

$ cat test.php 

$iterations = 10000;
$file_out ="./benchmark";
$precision = 8;

function dot()
        echo "Hello" . "World\n";

function comma()
        echo "Hello" , "World\n";

$begin = hrtime(true);
for ( $i=0 ; $i<$iterations; $i++) {
$end = hrtime(true);
$out = "   dot: " . round($end-$begin, $precision)."\n";
file_put_contents($file_out, $out, FILE_APPEND);

$begin = hrtime(true);
for ( $i=0 ; $i<$iterations; $i++) {
$end = hrtime(true);
$out = " comma: " . round($end-$begin, $precision)."\n";
file_put_contents($file_out, $out, FILE_APPEND);

$ php test.php

$ cat benchmark 
   dot: 22893557
 comma: 29056406


Score: 0

There is another interesting difference. Per 8 @phirschybar's answer to this question, if you use commas 7 in conjunction with html <pre> you get a result 6 that maintains line breaks. This is useful 5 for viewing a formatted object. For example, given 4 this object:

$object = new stdClass();
$object->property = 'test value';

Using concatenation...

echo "<pre>" . var_dump($object) . "</pre>";

... you 3 get no line breaks, making a large object 2 difficult to read:

object(stdClass)#1 (1) { ["property"]=> string(10) "test value" }

But using commas...

echo "<pre>" , var_dump($object) , "</pre>";

... you 1 get line breaks for easy reading:

object(stdClass)#1 (1) {
  string(10) "test value"

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