Chapter 3. Lexical Structure

Table of Contents

3.1. Unicode
3.2. Lexical Translations
3.3. Unicode Escapes
3.4. Line Terminators
3.5. Input Elements and Tokens
3.6. White Space
3.7. Comments
3.8. Identifiers
3.9. Keywords
3.10. Literals
3.10.1. Integer Literals
3.10.2. Floating-Point Literals
3.10.3. Boolean Literals
3.10.4. Character Literals
3.10.5. String Literals
3.10.6. Escape Sequences for Character and String Literals
3.10.7. The Null Literal
3.11. Separators
3.12. Operators

This chapter specifies the lexical structure of the Java programming language.

Programs are written in Unicode (§3.1), but lexical translations are provided (§3.2) so that Unicode escapes (§3.3) can be used to include any Unicode character using only ASCII characters. Line terminators are defined (§3.4) to support the different conventions of existing host systems while maintaining consistent line numbers.

The Unicode characters resulting from the lexical translations are reduced to a sequence of input elements (§3.5), which are white space (§3.6), comments (§3.7), and tokens. The tokens are the identifiers (§3.8), keywords (§3.9), literals (§3.10), separators (§3.11), and operators (§3.12) of the syntactic grammar.

3.1. Unicode

Programs are written using the Unicode character set. Information about this character set and its associated character encodings may be found at http://www.unicode.org/.

The Java SE platform tracks the Unicode specification as it evolves. The precise version of Unicode used by a given release is specified in the documentation of the class Character.

Versions of the Java programming language prior to 1.1 used Unicode version 1.1.5. Upgrades to newer versions of the Unicode Standard occurred in JDK 1.1 (to Unicode 2.0), JDK 1.1.7 (to Unicode 2.1), Java SE 1.4 (to Unicode 3.0), and Java SE 5.0 (to Unicode 4.0).

The Unicode standard was originally designed as a fixed-width 16-bit character encoding. It has since been changed to allow for characters whose representation requires more than 16 bits. The range of legal code points is now U+0000 to U+10FFFF, using the hexadecimal U+n notation. Characters whose code points are greater than U+FFFF are called supplementary characters. To represent the complete range of characters using only 16-bit units, the Unicode standard defines an encoding called UTF-16. In this encoding, supplementary characters are represented as pairs of 16-bit code units, the first from the high-surrogates range, (U+D800 to U+DBFF), the second from the low-surrogates range (U+DC00 to U+DFFF). For characters in the range U+0000 to U+FFFF, the values of code points and UTF-16 code units are the same.

The Java programming language represents text in sequences of 16-bit code units, using the UTF-16 encoding.

Some APIs of the Java SE platform, primarily in the Character class, use 32-bit integers to represent code points as individual entities. The Java SE platform provides methods to convert between 16-bit and 32-bit representations.

This specification uses the terms code point and UTF-16 code unit where the representation is relevant, and the generic term character where the representation is irrelevant to the discussion.

Except for comments (§3.7), identifiers, and the contents of character and string literals (§3.10.4, §3.10.5), all input elements (§3.5) in a program are formed only from ASCII characters (or Unicode escapes (§3.3) which result in ASCII characters).

ASCII (ANSI X3.4) is the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. The first 128 characters of the Unicode UTF-16 encoding are the ASCII characters.

3.2. Lexical Translations

A raw Unicode character stream is translated into a sequence of tokens, using the following three lexical translation steps, which are applied in turn:

  1. A translation of Unicode escapes (§3.3) in the raw stream of Unicode characters to the corresponding Unicode character. A Unicode escape of the form \uxxxx, where xxxx is a hexadecimal value, represents the UTF-16 code unit whose encoding is xxxx. This translation step allows any program to be expressed using only ASCII characters.

  2. A translation of the Unicode stream resulting from step 1 into a stream of input characters and line terminators (§3.4).

  3. A translation of the stream of input characters and line terminators resulting from step 2 into a sequence of input elements (§3.5) which, after white space (§3.6) and comments (§3.7) are discarded, comprise the tokens (§3.5) that are the terminal symbols of the syntactic grammar (§2.3).

The longest possible translation is used at each step, even if the result does not ultimately make a correct program while another lexical translation would. There is one exception: if lexical translation occurs in a type context (§4.11) and the input stream has two or more consecutive > characters that are followed by a non-> character, then each > character must be translated to the token for the numerical comparison operator >.

The input characters a--b are tokenized (§3.5) as a, --, b, which is not part of any grammatically correct program, even though the tokenization a, -, -, b could be part of a grammatically correct program.

Without the rule for > characters, two consecutive > brackets in a type such as List<List<String>> would be tokenized as the signed right shift operator >>, while three consecutive > brackets in a type such as List<List<List<String>>> would be tokenized as the unsigned right shift operator >>>. Worse, the tokenization of four or more consecutive > brackets in a type such as List<List<List<List<String>>>> would be ambiguous, as various combinations of >, >>, and >>> tokens could represent the >>>> characters.

3.3. Unicode Escapes

A compiler for the Java programming language ("Java compiler") first recognizes Unicode escapes in its input, translating the ASCII characters \u followed by four hexadecimal digits to the UTF-16 code unit (§3.1) for the indicated hexadecimal value, and passing all other characters unchanged. Representing supplementary characters requires two consecutive Unicode escapes. This translation step results in a sequence of Unicode input characters.

UnicodeInputCharacter:
UnicodeMarker:
u {u}
HexDigit:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 a b c d e f A B C D E F
RawInputCharacter:
any Unicode character

The \, u, and hexadecimal digits here are all ASCII characters.

In addition to the processing implied by the grammar, for each raw input character that is a backslash \, input processing must consider how many other \ characters contiguously precede it, separating it from a non-\ character or the start of the input stream. If this number is even, then the \ is eligible to begin a Unicode escape; if the number is odd, then the \ is not eligible to begin a Unicode escape.

For example, the raw input "\\u2122=\u2122" results in the eleven characters " \ \ u 2 1 2 2 = ™ " (\u2122 is the Unicode encoding of the character ).

If an eligible \ is not followed by u, then it is treated as a RawInputCharacter and remains part of the escaped Unicode stream.

If an eligible \ is followed by u, or more than one u, and the last u is not followed by four hexadecimal digits, then a compile-time error occurs.

The character produced by a Unicode escape does not participate in further Unicode escapes.

For example, the raw input \u005cu005a results in the six characters \ u 0 0 5 a, because 005c is the Unicode value for \. It does not result in the character Z, which is Unicode character 005a, because the \ that resulted from the \u005c is not interpreted as the start of a further Unicode escape.

The Java programming language specifies a standard way of transforming a program written in Unicode into ASCII that changes a program into a form that can be processed by ASCII-based tools. The transformation involves converting any Unicode escapes in the source text of the program to ASCII by adding an extra u - for example, \uxxxx becomes \uuxxxx - while simultaneously converting non-ASCII characters in the source text to Unicode escapes containing a single u each.

This transformed version is equally acceptable to a Java compiler and represents the exact same program. The exact Unicode source can later be restored from this ASCII form by converting each escape sequence where multiple u's are present to a sequence of Unicode characters with one fewer u, while simultaneously converting each escape sequence with a single u to the corresponding single Unicode character.

A Java compiler should use the \uxxxx notation as an output format to display Unicode characters when a suitable font is not available.

3.4. Line Terminators

A Java compiler next divides the sequence of Unicode input characters into lines by recognizing line terminators.

LineTerminator:
the ASCII LF character, also known as "newline"
the ASCII CR character, also known as "return"
the ASCII CR character followed by the ASCII LF character
InputCharacter:
UnicodeInputCharacter but not CR or LF

Lines are terminated by the ASCII characters CR, or LF, or CR LF. The two characters CR immediately followed by LF are counted as one line terminator, not two.

A line terminator specifies the termination of the // form of a comment (§3.7).

The lines defined by line terminators may determine the line numbers produced by a Java compiler.

The result is a sequence of line terminators and input characters, which are the terminal symbols for the third step in the tokenization process.

3.5. Input Elements and Tokens

The input characters and line terminators that result from escape processing (§3.3) and then input line recognition (§3.4) are reduced to a sequence of input elements.

Input:
InputElement:
Sub:
the ASCII SUB character, also known as "control-Z"

Those input elements that are not white space or comments are tokens. The tokens are the terminal symbols of the syntactic grammar (§2.3).

White space (§3.6) and comments (§3.7) can serve to separate tokens that, if adjacent, might be tokenized in another manner. For example, the ASCII characters - and = in the input can form the operator token -= (§3.12) only if there is no intervening white space or comment.

As a special concession for compatibility with certain operating systems, the ASCII SUB character (\u001a, or control-Z) is ignored if it is the last character in the escaped input stream.

Consider two tokens x and y in the resulting input stream. If x precedes y, then we say that x is to the left of y and that y is to the right of x.

For example, in this simple piece of code:

class Empty {
}

we say that the } token is to the right of the { token, even though it appears, in this two-dimensional representation, downward and to the left of the { token. This convention about the use of the words left and right allows us to speak, for example, of the right-hand operand of a binary operator or of the left-hand side of an assignment.

3.6. White Space

White space is defined as the ASCII space character, horizontal tab character, form feed character, and line terminator characters (§3.4).

WhiteSpace:
the ASCII SP character, also known as "space"
the ASCII HT character, also known as "horizontal tab"
the ASCII FF character, also known as "form feed"
LineTerminator

3.7. Comments

There are two kinds of comments:

  • /* text */

    A traditional comment: all the text from the ASCII characters /* to the ASCII characters */ is ignored (as in C and C++).

  • // text

    An end-of-line comment: all the text from the ASCII characters // to the end of the line is ignored (as in C++).

TraditionalComment:
NotStar:
NotStarNotSlash:
EndOfLineComment:

These productions imply all of the following properties:

  • Comments do not nest.

  • /* and */ have no special meaning in comments that begin with //.

  • // has no special meaning in comments that begin with /* or /**.

As a result, the following text is a single complete comment:

/* this comment /* // /** ends here: */

The lexical grammar implies that comments do not occur within character literals (§3.10.4) or string literals (§3.10.5).

3.8. Identifiers

An identifier is an unlimited-length sequence of Java letters and Java digits, the first of which must be a Java letter.

Identifier:
IdentifierChars:
JavaLetter:
any Unicode character that is a "Java letter"
JavaLetterOrDigit:
any Unicode character that is a "Java letter-or-digit"

A "Java letter" is a character for which the method Character.isJavaIdentifierStart(int) returns true.

A "Java letter-or-digit" is a character for which the method Character.isJavaIdentifierPart(int) returns true.

The "Java letters" include uppercase and lowercase ASCII Latin letters A-Z (\u0041-\u005a), and a-z (\u0061-\u007a), and, for historical reasons, the ASCII underscore (_, or \u005f) and dollar sign ($, or \u0024). The $ sign should be used only in mechanically generated source code or, rarely, to access pre-existing names on legacy systems.

The "Java digits" include the ASCII digits 0-9 (\u0030-\u0039).

Letters and digits may be drawn from the entire Unicode character set, which supports most writing scripts in use in the world today, including the large sets for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. This allows programmers to use identifiers in their programs that are written in their native languages.

An identifier cannot have the same spelling (Unicode character sequence) as a keyword (§3.9), boolean literal (§3.10.3), or the null literal (§3.10.7), or a compile-time error occurs.

Two identifiers are the same only if they are identical, that is, have the same Unicode character for each letter or digit. Identifiers that have the same external appearance may yet be different.

For example, the identifiers consisting of the single letters LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A (A, \u0041), LATIN SMALL LETTER A (a, \u0061), GREEK CAPITAL LETTER ALPHA (A, \u0391), CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER A (a, \u0430) and MATHEMATICAL BOLD ITALIC SMALL A (a, \ud835\udc82) are all different.

Unicode composite characters are different from their canonical equivalent decomposed characters. For example, a LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A ACUTE (Á, \u00c1) is different from a LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A (A, \u0041) immediately followed by a NON-SPACING ACUTE (´, \u0301) in identifiers. See The Unicode Standard, Section 3.11 "Normalization Forms".

Examples of identifiers are:

  • String

  • i3

  • αρετη

  • MAX_VALUE

  • isLetterOrDigit

3.9. Keywords

50 character sequences, formed from ASCII letters, are reserved for use as keywords and cannot be used as identifiers (§3.8).

Keyword:
abstract   continue   for          new         switch
assert     default    if           package     synchronized
boolean    do         goto         private     this
break      double     implements   protected   throw
byte       else       import       public      throws
case       enum       instanceof   return      transient
catch      extends    int          short       try
char       final      interface    static      void
class      finally    long         strictfp    volatile
const      float      native       super       while

The keywords const and goto are reserved, even though they are not currently used. This may allow a Java compiler to produce better error messages if these C++ keywords incorrectly appear in programs.

While true and false might appear to be keywords, they are technically boolean literals (§3.10.3). Similarly, while null might appear to be a keyword, it is technically the null literal (§3.10.7).

3.10. Literals

A literal is the source code representation of a value of a primitive type (§4.2), the String type (§4.3.3), or the null type (§4.1).

3.10.1. Integer Literals

An integer literal may be expressed in decimal (base 10), hexadecimal (base 16), octal (base 8), or binary (base 2).

DecimalIntegerLiteral:
HexIntegerLiteral:
OctalIntegerLiteral:
BinaryIntegerLiteral:
IntegerTypeSuffix:
l L

An integer literal is of type long if it is suffixed with an ASCII letter L or l (ell); otherwise it is of type int (§4.2.1).

The suffix L is preferred, because the letter l (ell) is often hard to distinguish from the digit 1 (one).

Underscores are allowed as separators between digits that denote the integer.

In a hexadecimal or binary literal, the integer is only denoted by the digits after the 0x or 0b characters and before any type suffix. Therefore, underscores may not appear immediately after 0x or 0b, or after the last digit in the numeral.

In a decimal or octal literal, the integer is denoted by all the digits in the literal before any type suffix. Therefore, underscores may not appear before the first digit or after the last digit in the numeral. Underscores may appear after the initial 0 in an octal numeral (since 0 is a digit that denotes part of the integer) and after the initial non-zero digit in a non-zero decimal literal.

A decimal numeral is either the single ASCII digit 0, representing the integer zero, or consists of an ASCII digit from 1 to 9 optionally followed by one or more ASCII digits from 0 to 9 interspersed with underscores, representing a positive integer.

NonZeroDigit:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Digit:
DigitsAndUnderscores:
DigitOrUnderscore:
Digit
_
Underscores:
_ {_}

A hexadecimal numeral consists of the leading ASCII characters 0x or 0X followed by one or more ASCII hexadecimal digits interspersed with underscores, and can represent a positive, zero, or negative integer.

Hexadecimal digits with values 10 through 15 are represented by the ASCII letters a through f or A through F, respectively; each letter used as a hexadecimal digit may be uppercase or lowercase.

HexNumeral:
HexDigit:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 a b c d e f A B C D E F
HexDigitsAndUnderscores:
HexDigitOrUnderscore:

The HexDigit production above comes from §3.3.

An octal numeral consists of an ASCII digit 0 followed by one or more of the ASCII digits 0 through 7 interspersed with underscores, and can represent a positive, zero, or negative integer.

OctalNumeral:
OctalDigit:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
OctalDigitsAndUnderscores:
OctalDigitOrUnderscore:

Note that octal numerals always consist of two or more digits, as 0 alone is always considered to be a decimal numeral - not that it matters much in practice, for the numerals 0, 00, and 0x0 all represent exactly the same integer value.

A binary numeral consists of the leading ASCII characters 0b or 0B followed by one or more of the ASCII digits 0 or 1 interspersed with underscores, and can represent a positive, zero, or negative integer.

BinaryNumeral:
BinaryDigit:
0 1
BinaryDigitsAndUnderscores:
BinaryDigitOrUnderscore:

The largest decimal literal of type int is 2147483648 (231).

All decimal literals from 0 to 2147483647 may appear anywhere an int literal may appear.

It is a compile-time error if a decimal literal of type int is larger than 2147483648 (231), or if the decimal literal 2147483648 appears anywhere other than as the operand of the unary minus operator (§15.15.4).

The largest positive hexadecimal, octal, and binary literals of type int - each of which represents the decimal value 2147483647 (231-1) - are respectively:

  • 0x7fff_ffff,

  • 0177_7777_7777, and

  • 0b0111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111

The most negative hexadecimal, octal, and binary literals of type int - each of which represents the decimal value -2147483648 (-231) - are respectively:

  • 0x8000_0000,

  • 0200_0000_0000, and

  • 0b1000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000

The following hexadecimal, octal, and binary literals represent the decimal value -1:

  • 0xffff_ffff,

  • 0377_7777_7777, and

  • 0b1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111

It is a compile-time error if a hexadecimal, octal, or binary int literal does not fit in 32 bits.

The largest decimal literal of type long is 9223372036854775808L (263).

All decimal literals from 0L to 9223372036854775807L may appear anywhere a long literal may appear.

It is a compile-time error if a decimal literal of type long is larger than 9223372036854775808L (263), or if the decimal literal 9223372036854775808L appears anywhere other than as the operand of the unary minus operator (§15.15.4).

The largest positive hexadecimal, octal, and binary literals of type long - each of which represents the decimal value 9223372036854775807L (263-1) - are respectively:

  • 0x7fff_ffff_ffff_ffffL,

  • 07_7777_7777_7777_7777_7777L, and

  • 0b0111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111L

The most negative hexadecimal, octal, and binary literals of type long - each of which represents the decimal value -9223372036854775808L (-263) - are respectively:

  • 0x8000_0000_0000_0000L, and

  • 010_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000L, and

  • 0b1000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000_0000L

The following hexadecimal, octal, and binary literals represent the decimal value -1L:

  • 0xffff_ffff_ffff_ffffL,

  • 017_7777_7777_7777_7777_7777L, and

  • 0b1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111_1111L

It is a compile-time error if a hexadecimal, octal, or binary long literal does not fit in 64 bits.

Examples of int literals:

0    2    0372    0xDada_Cafe    1996    0x00_FF__00_FF

Examples of long literals:

0l    0777L    0x100000000L    2_147_483_648L    0xC0B0L

3.10.2. Floating-Point Literals

A floating-point literal has the following parts: a whole-number part, a decimal or hexadecimal point (represented by an ASCII period character), a fraction part, an exponent, and a type suffix.

A floating-point literal may be expressed in decimal (base 10) or hexadecimal (base 16).

For decimal floating-point literals, at least one digit (in either the whole number or the fraction part) and either a decimal point, an exponent, or a float type suffix are required. All other parts are optional. The exponent, if present, is indicated by the ASCII letter e or E followed by an optionally signed integer.

For hexadecimal floating-point literals, at least one digit is required (in either the whole number or the fraction part), and the exponent is mandatory, and the float type suffix is optional. The exponent is indicated by the ASCII letter p or P followed by an optionally signed integer.

Underscores are allowed as separators between digits that denote the whole-number part, and between digits that denote the fraction part, and between digits that denote the exponent.

ExponentIndicator:
e E
SignedInteger:
Sign:
+ -
FloatTypeSuffix:
f F d D
HexadecimalFloatingPointLiteral:
HexSignificand:
BinaryExponentIndicator:
p P

A floating-point literal is of type float if it is suffixed with an ASCII letter F or f; otherwise its type is double and it can optionally be suffixed with an ASCII letter D or d (§4.2.3).

The elements of the types float and double are those values that can be represented using the IEEE 754 32-bit single-precision and 64-bit double-precision binary floating-point formats, respectively.

The details of proper input conversion from a Unicode string representation of a floating-point number to the internal IEEE 754 binary floating-point representation are described for the methods valueOf of class Float and class Double of the package java.lang.

The largest positive finite literal of type float is 3.4028235e38f.

The smallest positive finite non-zero literal of type float is 1.40e-45f.

The largest positive finite literal of type double is 1.7976931348623157e308.

The smallest positive finite non-zero literal of type double is 4.9e-324.

It is a compile-time error if a non-zero floating-point literal is too large, so that on rounded conversion to its internal representation, it becomes an IEEE 754 infinity.

A program can represent infinities without producing a compile-time error by using constant expressions such as 1f/0f or -1d/0d or by using the predefined constants POSITIVE_INFINITY and NEGATIVE_INFINITY of the classes Float and Double.

It is a compile-time error if a non-zero floating-point literal is too small, so that, on rounded conversion to its internal representation, it becomes a zero.

A compile-time error does not occur if a non-zero floating-point literal has a small value that, on rounded conversion to its internal representation, becomes a non-zero denormalized number.

Predefined constants representing Not-a-Number values are defined in the classes Float and Double as Float.NaN and Double.NaN.

Examples of float literals:

1e1f    2.f    .3f    0f    3.14f    6.022137e+23f

Examples of double literals:

1e1    2.    .3    0.0    3.14    1e-9d    1e137

3.10.3. Boolean Literals

The boolean type has two values, represented by the boolean literals true and false, formed from ASCII letters.

BooleanLiteral:
true false

A boolean literal is always of type boolean (§4.2.5).

3.10.4. Character Literals

A character literal is expressed as a character or an escape sequence (§3.10.6), enclosed in ASCII single quotes. (The single-quote, or apostrophe, character is \u0027.)

CharacterLiteral:
SingleCharacter:
InputCharacter but not ' or \

See §3.10.6 for the definition of EscapeSequence.

Character literals can only represent UTF-16 code units (§3.1), i.e., they are limited to values from \u0000 to \uffff. Supplementary characters must be represented either as a surrogate pair within a char sequence, or as an integer, depending on the API they are used with.

A character literal is always of type char (§4.2.1).

It is a compile-time error for the character following the SingleCharacter or EscapeSequence to be other than a '.

It is a compile-time error for a line terminator (§3.4) to appear after the opening ' and before the closing '.

As specified in §3.4, the characters CR and LF are never an InputCharacter; each is recognized as constituting a LineTerminator.

The following are examples of char literals:

  • 'a'

  • '%'

  • '\t'

  • '\\'

  • '\''

  • '\u03a9'

  • '\uFFFF'

  • '\177'

  • '™'

Because Unicode escapes are processed very early, it is not correct to write '\u000a' for a character literal whose value is linefeed (LF); the Unicode escape \u000a is transformed into an actual linefeed in translation step 1 (§3.3) and the linefeed becomes a LineTerminator in step 2 (§3.4), and so the character literal is not valid in step 3. Instead, one should use the escape sequence '\n' (§3.10.6). Similarly, it is not correct to write '\u000d' for a character literal whose value is carriage return (CR). Instead, use '\r'.

In C and C++, a character literal may contain representations of more than one character, but the value of such a character literal is implementation-defined. In the Java programming language, a character literal always represents exactly one character.

3.10.5. String Literals

A string literal consists of zero or more characters enclosed in double quotes. Characters may be represented by escape sequences (§3.10.6) - one escape sequence for characters in the range U+0000 to U+FFFF, two escape sequences for the UTF-16 surrogate code units of characters in the range U+010000 to U+10FFFF.

StringLiteral:
StringCharacter:

See §3.10.6 for the definition of EscapeSequence.

A string literal is always of type String (§4.3.3).

It is a compile-time error for a line terminator to appear after the opening " and before the closing matching ".

As specified in §3.4, the characters CR and LF are never an InputCharacter; each is recognized as constituting a LineTerminator.

A long string literal can always be broken up into shorter pieces and written as a (possibly parenthesized) expression using the string concatenation operator + (§15.18.1).

The following are examples of string literals:

""                    // the empty string
"\""                  // a string containing " alone
"This is a string"    // a string containing 16 characters
"This is a " +        // actually a string-valued constant expression,
    "two-line string"    // formed from two string literals

Because Unicode escapes are processed very early, it is not correct to write "\u000a" for a string literal containing a single linefeed (LF); the Unicode escape \u000a is transformed into an actual linefeed in translation step 1 (§3.3) and the linefeed becomes a LineTerminator in step 2 (§3.4), and so the string literal is not valid in step 3. Instead, one should write "\n" (§3.10.6). Similarly, it is not correct to write "\u000d" for a string literal containing a single carriage return (CR). Instead, use "\r". Finally, it is not possible to write "\u0022" for a string literal containing a double quotation mark (").

A string literal is a reference to an instance of class String (§4.3.1, §4.3.3).

Moreover, a string literal always refers to the same instance of class String. This is because string literals - or, more generally, strings that are the values of constant expressions (§15.28) - are "interned" so as to share unique instances, using the method String.intern.

Example 3.10.5-1. String Literals

The program consisting of the compilation unit (§7.3):

package testPackage;
class Test {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        String hello = "Hello", lo = "lo";
        System.out.print((hello == "Hello") + " ");
        System.out.print((Other.hello == hello) + " ");
        System.out.print((other.Other.hello == hello) + " ");
        System.out.print((hello == ("Hel"+"lo")) + " ");
        System.out.print((hello == ("Hel"+lo)) + " ");
        System.out.println(hello == ("Hel"+lo).intern());
    }
}
class Other { static String hello = "Hello"; }

and the compilation unit:

package other;
public class Other { public static String hello = "Hello"; }

produces the output:

true true true true false true

This example illustrates six points:

  • Literal strings within the same class (§8 (Classes)) in the same package (§7 (Packages)) represent references to the same String object (§4.3.1).

  • Literal strings within different classes in the same package represent references to the same String object.

  • Literal strings within different classes in different packages likewise represent references to the same String object.

  • Strings computed by constant expressions (§15.28) are computed at compile time and then treated as if they were literals.

  • Strings computed by concatenation at run time are newly created and therefore distinct.

  • The result of explicitly interning a computed string is the same string as any pre-existing literal string with the same contents.


3.10.6. Escape Sequences for Character and String Literals

The character and string escape sequences allow for the representation of some nongraphic characters without using Unicode escapes, as well as the single quote, double quote, and backslash characters, in character literals (§3.10.4) and string literals (§3.10.5).

EscapeSequence:
\ b (backspace BS, Unicode \u0008)
\ t (horizontal tab HT, Unicode \u0009)
\ n (linefeed LF, Unicode \u000a)
\ f (form feed FF, Unicode \u000c)
\ r (carriage return CR, Unicode \u000d)
\ " (double quote ", Unicode \u0022)
\ ' (single quote ', Unicode \u0027)
\ \ (backslash \, Unicode \u005c)
OctalEscape (octal value, Unicode \u0000 to \u00ff)
OctalDigit:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
ZeroToThree:
0 1 2 3

The OctalDigit production above comes from §3.10.1.

It is a compile-time error if the character following a backslash in an escape sequence is not an ASCII b, t, n, f, r, ", ', \, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7. The Unicode escape \u is processed earlier (§3.3).

Octal escapes are provided for compatibility with C, but can express only Unicode values \u0000 through \u00FF, so Unicode escapes are usually preferred.

3.10.7. The Null Literal

The null type has one value, the null reference, represented by the null literal null, which is formed from ASCII characters.

NullLiteral:
null

A null literal is always of the null type (§4.1).

3.11. Separators

Twelve tokens, formed from ASCII characters, are the separators (punctuators).

Separator:
(   )   {   }   [   ]   ;   ,   .   ...   @   ::

3.12. Operators

38 tokens, formed from ASCII characters, are the operators.

Operator:
=   >   <   !   ~   ?   :   ->
==  >=  <=  !=  &&  ||  ++  --
+   -   *   /   &   |   ^   %   <<   >>   >>>
+=  -=  *=  /=  &=  |=  ^=  %=  <<=  >>=  >>>=