C Programming

Is the C Programming Language Object-Oriented

The C programming language has been around for over four decades and is widely used in many applications ranging from embedded systems to large-scale software development. The debate on whether the C programming language is object-oriented has been ongoing since the emergence of object-oriented programming (OOP) in the 1980s. While some argue that C is not object-oriented, others insist that it can be used to write object-oriented code. This essay will examine both arguments and provide a conclusion.

What Is Object Oriented Programming?

To begin with, let us first define object-oriented programming. The programming concept known as OOP divides data and logic into reusable, modular units known as objects. These objects contain data (called properties or attributes) and functions (called methods) that can manipulate and interact with the data. In OOP, the emphasis is on creating well-defined and encapsulated objects that can communicate with each other to accomplish a task.

Is the C Programming Language Object-Oriented?

Unfortunately, the C programming language acts as a procedural language rather than an object oriented one. Considering this, we can now assess the causes.

1: Classes

The idea of classes is one of the main concepts of OOP. A class describes the attributes and methods that belong to the object and serves as a blueprint for building objects. Sadly, C lacks a built-in method for class definition. However, it is still possible to create a class-like structure using C data structures and functions. These structures can hold data, and the functions can perform operations on that data, much like a class.

2: Encapsulation

Another significant aspect of OOP is data encapsulation. Encapsulation refers to the idea of hiding data and restricting access to it to ensure that it is only modified in a controlled manner. C has no built-in mechanisms for encapsulation, but it can be manually implemented using techniques such as struct and pointers.

3: Inheritance

The ability of a class to inherit attributes and functions from another class is another crucial aspect of OOP. Although C does not have a compiler support for inheritance mechanisms, inheritance may be done with pointers and structures by placing the inherited class attribute structure as the first member of the derived class attribute structure.

4: Polymorphism

C also lacks a built-in feature for polymorphism, which allows objects to take on various shapes and types. However, C can achieve some form of polymorphism by declaring pointers that point to functions after using structures.


While C does not have built-in support for object-oriented programming features such as classes, encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism, it is still possible to write object-oriented code using C data structures and functions. As a result, it is accurate to argue that C is a programming language that supports object-oriented programming, but it is not exclusively one. However, it is worth noting that using C for OOP requires a more manual approach compared to languages specifically designed for OOP, such as Java or Python.

About the author

Hiba Shafqat

I am a Computer Science student and a committed technical writer by choice. It is a great pleasure to share my knowledge with the world in which I have academic expertise.