## Is "if else" treated as a single statement?

Apologies if my wording is wrong.

I've been taught since high-school to add curly braces after statements such as if, while, for, etc. whenever there is more than one line of code to execute. Example:

```while(i<12)
i++;
z = i+3;
cout << "Answer is " << z << endl;
```

Will not execute what you'd expect. But the following will:

```while(i<12){
i++;
z = i+3;
cout << "Answer is " << z << endl;
}
```

However I recently came across a while loop that contains an if..else statement which seems like more than one line of code/statement when looked at, and yet it executes and works as it should regardless if it has curly braces for its scope or not.

```while(current != NULL && !found)
if(current->info >= newItem)
found = true;
else
{
trailCurrent = current;
}
```

Why is that? Does it treat the if..else statement as a single statement?

if .. else is a single statement (technically it is called a selection statement) in C++. Per [stmt.select]/1 the valid forms of `if` are:

```selection-statement:
if constexpr-opt ( init-statement-opt condition ) statement
if constexpr-opt ( init-statement-opt condition ) statement else statement
```

So

```while(current != NULL && !found)
if(current->info >= newItem)
found = true;
else
{
trailCurrent = current;
}
```

is a single statement as well and behaves correctly.

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The syntax for an `if` is basically:

```if (condition) statement else statement
```

If you want to control multiple statements with either the `if` or the `else` leg, you use curly braces to group them together into a block, which is syntactically a single statement.

Likewise with `while`, `for`, and so on. Each of them controls a single statement, which can be either a simple statement or a compound statement (i.e., some number of statements grouped together into a block using curly braces).

```while (condition) statement

do statement while (condition)

for (for-init condition ; statement) statement
```

For the moment, I'm sort of ignoring some of the more recent additions, such as defining a variable in the loop header, such as: `for (int i...)`, since that's not really relevant to the questions at hand.

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```selection-statement:
if (expression) statement
if (expression) statement else statement
switch (expression) statement
```

So yes, if-else is a single statement.

Think of it this way: If if-else weren't a single statement, what else would it be? Would the `if`-part be a statement and then the `else`-part another statement? If that were the case, you should be able to use `else` as a statement on its own (without a preceding `if`), but that would make no sense.

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Of course, they are single statement. You cannot write `else` without `if`. What will be if `while` loop with `if-else` loops only `if` case? Can you imagine that `else` will be executed after loop is finished?

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Yes, the `else` part is part of the `if` statement. This is also the reason why you can write `else if (...)`. The `if` in `else if` forms a second statement: the statement for the `else` part of the first `if`.

As others have pointed out in the comments already, relying on this can quickly lead to code that is hard to read, confusing, or even erroneous. For example:

```if (a)
if (b)
; // ...
else
; // this is the else for if (b), not if (a)!
```

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• The good habit is to always use braces after a `while`
• Notice that it is semantically incorrect to consider the "if...else" syntax as one statement when the documentation you linked clearly states "`if ... statement else statement`" meaning that there are two statements involved. Minor nitpick, but important.
• @NathanOliver `if … else …` is a single statement, however, technically, it's a selection statement, not a compound statement
• @user931018: Correct--in an `if`/the/`else if` chain, each `if` forms an independent statement (that happens to be controlled by the previous one).