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Actual Parameters vs. Formal Parameters: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 24, 2024
Actual parameters are the actual values passed to a function, while formal parameters are the variables defined in the function declaration to receive these values.
Actual Parameters vs. Formal Parameters

Key Differences

Actual parameters are the specific values or variables that are passed to a function when it is called. In contrast, formal parameters are the variables listed in the function's definition, serving as placeholders to receive the actual parameters.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 24, 2024
When a function is executed, the actual parameters' values are used in the function's operations. Formal parameters, on the other hand, define the type and number of inputs a function can accept, and are used within the function as if they were regular variables.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 24, 2024
Actual parameters can vary each time a function is called, allowing for different outcomes depending on the inputs. Formal parameters remain the same in the function definition, creating a consistent interface for the function.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 24, 2024
The actual parameters are bound to the formal parameters when a function call is made, meaning the values of the actual parameters are copied to the formal parameters. This binding allows the function to operate with specific data while maintaining a general form in its definition.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 24, 2024
In summary, actual parameters represent the real data passed to a function, while formal parameters represent the expected data structure in a function's definition, enabling the function to operate on different actual data each time it is called.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 24, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Values passed to a function during a call.
Variables defined in a function's signature.
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Role in Function Call

Provide specific data for the function.
Define the type and number of expected inputs.
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Variability

Can change with each function call.
Remain constant in the function definition.
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Purpose

Supply the data needed for computation.
Serve as placeholders for actual values.
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Scope

Exist only during the function call.
Defined in the function's scope.
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Actual Parameters and Formal Parameters Definitions

Actual Parameters

Specific inputs given to a function during its execution.
The function was called with 10 and 20 as actual parameters.
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Jan 23, 2024

Formal Parameters

Named entities in a function declaration that specify the type of arguments it accepts.
The formal parameters width and height were used in the function definition.
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Jan 23, 2024

Actual Parameters

Actual data passed to a function at runtime.
He used variable x and y as actual parameters in the function call.
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Jan 23, 2024

Formal Parameters

Variables in a function definition that accept values during a function call.
In the function add(int a, int b), a and b are formal parameters.
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Jan 23, 2024

Actual Parameters

Real values used in a function call to substitute formal parameters.
In calculateArea(radius), the value of radius is an actual parameter.
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Formal Parameters

Placeholders in a function used to define expected input types.
The function signature void display(string message) includes message as a formal parameter.
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Jan 23, 2024

Actual Parameters

The arguments that are passed to a function during its call.
She specified 4 and 7 as actual parameters in the function.
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Jan 23, 2024

Formal Parameters

Variables in a function's signature that are replaced by actual parameters when called.
In calculateArea(double radius), radius is a formal parameter.
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Jan 23, 2024

Actual Parameters

Values or variables provided to a function when it is invoked.
In print(sum(5, 3)), 5 and 3 are actual parameters.
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Jan 23, 2024

Formal Parameters

Parameters defined in a function's declaration to hold the values of actual parameters.
In multiply(int x, int y), x and y are formal parameters.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 23, 2024

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What are formal parameters?

Variables named in a function's definition to receive actual parameter values.
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Feb 24, 2024

Are formal parameters necessary in all functions?

Not all functions require formal parameters; some can be defined without them.
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Feb 24, 2024

What are actual parameters?

Values or variables passed to a function when it's called.
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Do actual parameters affect the function's signature?

No, actual parameters don't alter the function's signature.
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Can actual parameters differ in type?

Yes, they can vary in type based on what is passed during the function call.
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What happens if the types of actual and formal parameters don't match?

This can lead to errors or unexpected behavior, depending on the language.
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Can formal parameters be used as regular variables?

Within the function, formal parameters act as regular variables.
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How are actual parameters passed to functions?

They are passed by value or reference, depending on the programming language.
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Is the number of actual parameters important?

Yes, it typically must match the number of formal parameters.
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Are actual parameters part of a function's declaration?

No, they're part of the function call, not the declaration.
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Can actual parameters be expressions?

Yes, expressions can be used as actual parameters.
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Can formal parameters have default values?

Yes, in some programming languages, formal parameters can be given default values.
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Can a function have no actual parameters?

Yes, if the function is defined without formal parameters.
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Is the order of actual parameters important?

Yes, it generally should match the order of formal parameters.
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How are default values for formal parameters used?

They are used when no actual parameter is passed for that formal parameter.
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Do actual parameters have a scope?

Their scope is generally where they are defined, not just within the function.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 24, 2024

Can formal parameters have the same names as variables outside the function?

Yes, but this can lead to shadowing, where the external variable is temporarily hidden.
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Can formal parameters change during function execution?

Their values can change, but their number and type cannot.
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How does a function recognize formal parameters?

Through the function's signature, where they are defined.
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Do formal parameters exist outside the function?

No, they only exist within the scope of the function.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 24, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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