• Kent D. LeeEmail author
Part of the Undergraduate Topics in Computer Science book series (UTICS)


Once you’ve learned to program in one language, learning a similar programming language isn’t all that hard. But, understanding just how to write in the new language takes looking at examples or reading documentation to learn its details. In other words, you need to know the mechanics of putting a program together in the new language. Are the semicolons in the right places? Do you use begin...end or do you use curly braces (i.e. { and })? Learning how a program is put together is called learning the syntax of the language. Syntax refers to the words and symbols of a language and how to write the symbols down in some meaningful order. Semantics is the word that is used when deriving meaning from what is written. The semantics of a program refers to what the program will do when it is executed. Informally it is much easier to say what a program does than to describe the syntactic structure of the program. However, syntax is a lot easier to formally describe than semantics. In either case, if you are learning a new language, you need to learn something about both the syntax and semantics of the language.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Luther CollegeDecorahUSA

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