C# loop - break vs. continue

816

In a C# (feel free to answer for other languages) loop, what's the difference between break and continue as a means to leave the structure of the loop, and go to the next iteration?

Example:

foreach (DataRow row in myTable.Rows)
{
    if (someConditionEvalsToTrue)
    {
        break; //what's the difference between this and continue ?
        //continue;
    }
}

This question is tagged with c# loops enumeration

~ Asked on 2008-08-08 21:49:01

15 Answers


1534

break will exit the loop completely, continue will just skip the current iteration.

For example:

for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
    if (i == 0) {
        break;
    }

    DoSomeThingWith(i);
}

The break will cause the loop to exit on the first iteration - DoSomeThingWith will never be executed. This here:

for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
    if(i == 0) {
        continue;
    }

    DoSomeThingWith(i);
}

Will not execute DoSomeThingWith for i = 0, but the loop will continue and DoSomeThingWith will be executed for i = 1 to i = 9.

~ Answered on 2008-08-08 21:51:35


387

A really easy way to understand this is to place the word "loop" after each of the keywords. The terms now make sense if they are just read like everyday phrases.

break loop - looping is broken and stops.

continue loop - loop continues to execute with the next iteration.

~ Answered on 2008-08-08 22:33:31


106

break causes the program counter to jump out of the scope of the innermost loop

for(i = 0; i < 10; i++)
{
    if(i == 2)
        break;
}

Works like this

for(i = 0; i < 10; i++)
{
    if(i == 2)
        goto BREAK;
}
BREAK:;

continue jumps to the end of the loop. In a for loop, continue jumps to the increment expression.

for(i = 0; i < 10; i++)
{
    if(i == 2)
        continue;

    printf("%d", i);
}

Works like this

for(i = 0; i < 10; i++)
{
    if(i == 2)
        goto CONTINUE;

    printf("%d", i);

    CONTINUE:;
}

~ Answered on 2008-08-19 20:21:17


41

I used to always get confused whether I should use break, or continue. This is what helps me remember:

When to use break vs continue?

  1. Break - it's like breaking up. It's sad, you guys are parting. The loop is exited.

Break

  1. Continue - means that you're gonna give today a rest and sort it all out tomorrow (i.e. skip the current iteration)!

Continue

~ Answered on 2017-12-05 23:07:37


30

break would stop the foreach loop completely, continue would skip to the next DataRow.

~ Answered on 2008-08-08 21:50:09


20

There are more than a few people who don't like break and continue. The latest complaint I saw about them was in JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford. But I find that sometimes using one of them really simplifies things, especially if your language doesn't include a do-while or do-until style of loop.

I tend to use break in loops that are searching a list for something. Once found, there's no point in continuing, so you might as well quit.

I use continue when doing something with most elements of a list, but still want to skip over a few.

The break statement also comes in handy when polling for a valid response from somebody or something. Instead of:

Ask a question
While the answer is invalid:
    Ask the question

You could eliminate some duplication and use:

While True:
    Ask a question
    If the answer is valid:
        break

The do-until loop that I mentioned before is the more elegant solution for that particular problem:

Do:
    Ask a question
    Until the answer is valid

No duplication, and no break needed either.

~ Answered on 2008-08-08 22:35:46


13

All have given a very good explanation. I am still posting my answer just to give an example if that can help.

// break statement
for (int i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
    if (i == 3) {
        break; // It will force to come out from the loop
    }

    lblDisplay.Text = lblDisplay.Text + i + "[Printed] ";
}

Here is the output:

0[Printed] 1[Printed] 2[Printed]

So 3[Printed] & 4[Printed] will not be displayed as there is break when i == 3

//continue statement
for (int i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
    if (i == 3) {
        continue; // It will take the control to start point of loop
    }

    lblDisplay.Text = lblDisplay.Text + i + "[Printed] ";
}

Here is the output:

0[Printed] 1[Printed] 2[Printed] 4[Printed]

So 3[Printed] will not be displayed as there is continue when i == 3

~ Answered on 2010-12-21 07:27:03


7

Break

Break forces a loop to exit immediately.

Continue

This does the opposite of break. Instead of terminating the loop, it immediately loops again, skipping the rest of the code.

~ Answered on 2013-03-28 06:58:57


6

By example

foreach(var i in Enumerable.Range(1,3))
{
    Console.WriteLine(i);
}

Prints 1, 2, 3 (on separate lines).

Add a break condition at i = 2

foreach(var i in Enumerable.Range(1,3))
{
    if (i == 2)
        break;

    Console.WriteLine(i);
}

Now the loop prints 1 and stops.

Replace the break with a continue.

foreach(var i in Enumerable.Range(1,3))
{
    if (i == 2)
        continue;

    Console.WriteLine(i);
}

Now to loop prints 1 and 3 (skipping 2).

Thus, break stops the loop, whereas continue skips to the next iteration.

~ Answered on 2013-10-10 15:34:49


6

Simple answer:

Break exits the loop immediately.
Continue starts processing the next item. (If there are any, by jumping to the evaluating line of the for/while)

~ Answered on 2008-10-22 09:11:16


5

Please let me state the obvious: note that adding neither break nor continue, will resume your program; i.e. I trapped for a certain error, then after logging it, I wanted to resume processing, and there were more code tasks in between the next row, so I just let it fall through.

~ Answered on 2009-03-23 18:23:02


5

Ruby unfortunately is a bit different. PS: My memory is a bit hazy on this so apologies if I'm wrong

instead of break/continue, it has break/next, which behave the same in terms of loops

Loops (like everything else) are expressions, and "return" the last thing that they did. Most of the time, getting the return value from a loop is pointless, so everyone just does this

a = 5
while a < 10
    a + 1
end

You can however do this

a = 5
b = while a < 10
    a + 1
end # b is now 10

HOWEVER, a lot of ruby code 'emulates' a loop by using a block. The canonical example is

10.times do |x|
    puts x
end

As it is much more common for people to want to do things with the result of a block, this is where it gets messy. break/next mean different things in the context of a block.

break will jump out of the code that called the block

next will skip the rest of the code in the block, and 'return' what you specify to the caller of the block. This doesn't make any sense without examples.

def timesten
    10.times{ |t| puts yield t }
end


timesten do |x|
   x * 2
end
# will print
2
4
6
8 ... and so on


timesten do |x|
    break
    x * 2
end
# won't print anything. The break jumps out of the timesten function entirely, and the call to `puts` inside it gets skipped

timesten do |x|
    break 5
    x * 2
end
# This is the same as above. it's "returning" 5, but nobody is catching it. If you did a = timesten... then a would get assigned to 5

timesten do |x|
    next 5
    x * 2
end 
# this would print
5
5
5 ... and so on, because 'next 5' skips the 'x * 2' and 'returns' 5.

So yeah. Ruby is awesome, but it has some awful corner-cases. This is the second worst one I've seen in my years of using it :-)

~ Answered on 2008-08-09 02:31:13


3

To break completely out of a foreach loop, break is used;

To go to the next iteration in the loop, continue is used;

Break is useful if you’re looping through a collection of Objects (like Rows in a Datatable) and you are searching for a particular match, when you find that match, there’s no need to continue through the remaining rows, so you want to break out.

Continue is useful when you have accomplished what you need to in side a loop iteration. You’ll normally have continue after an if.

~ Answered on 2013-03-09 12:50:42


2

if you don't want to use break you just increase value of I in such a way that it make iteration condition false and loop will not execute on next iteration.

for(int i = 0; i < list.Count; i++){
   if(i == 5)
    i = list.Count;  //it will make "i<list.Count" false and loop will exit
}

~ Answered on 2016-02-03 06:18:55


0

As for other languages:

'VB
For i=0 To 10
   If i=5 then Exit For '= break in C#;
   'Do Something for i<5
next

For i=0 To 10
   If i=5 then Continue For '= continue in C#
   'Do Something for i<>5...
Next

~ Answered on 2018-02-20 14:25:35


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