10.1. switch Statements vs. else if

You have been exposed to basic ways to contol the flow of data within your code. We discussed logical operators, conditional statements, and loops. Before we move on to collections, such as Lists and dictionaries, we’re going to discuss a few more ways to control flow: switch statements, do while and foreach loops, and break/continue statements.

10.1.1. switch Statements

C# also supports a switch statement that acts something like an else if statement under certain conditions, called cases. The switch statement is not used very often, and we generally recommend you avoid using it. It is not as powerful as the else if model because the switch variable can only be compared for equality with a very small class of types.

Here is a quick example of a switch statement:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
Console.WriteLine("Enter an integer: ");
string dayString = Console.ReadLine();
int dayNum = int.Parse(dayString);

string day;
switch (dayNum) {
   case 0:
      day = "Sunday";
      break;
   case 1:
      day = "Monday";
      break;
   case 2:
      day = "Tuesday";
      break;
   case 3:
      day = "Wednesday";
      break;
   case 4:
      day = "Thursday";
      break;
   case 5:
      day = "Friday";
      break;
   case 6:
      day = "Saturday";
      break;
   default:
      // in this example, this block runs if none of the above blocks match
      day = "Int does not correspond to a day of the week";
      break;
}
Console.WriteLine(day);

Note that each case ends with a break statement. We will look at why this is in the following section.

In the example above, here’s the output if a user enters the number 4.

Enter an integer:
4
Thursday

And the output if that user enters 10? Below:

Enter an integer:
10
Int does not correspond to a day of the week

Here’s how the above example looks using the else if construction:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
Console.WriteLine("Enter an integer: ");
string dayString = Console.ReadLine;
int dayNum = int.Parse(dayString);

string day;
if (dayNum == 0)
{
   day = "Sunday";
}
else if (dayNum == 1)
{
   day = "Monday";
}
else if (dayNum == 2)
{
   day = "Tuesday";
}
else if (dayNum == 3)
{
   day = "Wednesday";
}
else if (dayNum == 4)
{
   day = "Thursday";
}
else if (dayNum == 5)
{
   day = "Friday";
}
else if (dayNum == 6)
{
   day = "Saturday";
}
else
{
   day = "Int does not correspond to a day of the week";
}
Console.WriteLine(day);

10.1.1.1. Fallthrough

Many C-based languages utilize switch statements. However, not all languages share the same behavior when it comes to fallthrough. Fallthrough is what happens when a break statement is omitted and is described in detail in this article on switch statements. In C#, you can take advantage of fallthrough behavior in specific circumstances with blank cases. If the behavior we want matches for two cases, then we can take advantage of this fallthrough action.

Example

We want to use a switch statement to tell us if it is the weekend or a weekday. Here is how we might modify the switch statement from above and make use of fallthrough.

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
Console.WriteLine("Enter an integer: ");
string dayString = Console.ReadLine;
int dayNum = int.Parse(dayString);

string weekZone;
switch (dayNum) {
   case 0:
      weekZone = "Weekend";
      break;
   case 1:
   case 2:
   case 3:
   case 4:
   case 5:
      weekZone = "Week Day";
      break;
   case 6:
      weekZone = "Weekend";
      break;
   default:
      // in this example, this block runs if none of the above blocks match
      weekZone = "Int does not correspond to a day of the week";
      break;
}
Console.WriteLine(day);

Because we want to set the value of weekZone to "Week Day" for cases 1-5, we omit the break statements and any other code.

10.1.2. Check Your Understanding

Question

When does fallthrough occur in C#?

  1. Omitting an else clause from a conditional.
  2. Omitting an else clause from switch statement.
  3. Omitting a default case from a switch statement.
  4. Omitting a break line from a switch statement.

Question

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
Console.WriteLine("Are you a space cadet? yes or no");
string response = Console.ReadLine();

switch (response) {
   case "yes":
      Console.WriteLine("Greetings cadet.");
   case "no":
      Console.WriteLine("Greetings normie.");
   default:
      Console.WriteLine("Are you an alien?");
}

Given the code above, what prints if the user enters no after the prompt?

  1. Greetings cadet.
    
  2. Greetings normie.
    
  3. Greetings normie.
    Are you an alien?
    
  4. Greetings cadet.
    Greetings normie.
    
  5. The program doesn’t work as written.