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How to Learn C: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering This Programming Language

C has been an influential programming language for many years. It is quite basic, but every programmer should learn C because many of today’s coding languages are based on C. Although there are some things that C can’t be used for, understanding how it works will make you a better developer.

If you’re interested in this programming language, then read on as we go over all the courses and resources you can use to learn C.

What Is C?

C is an imperative programming language developed by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs in the early 70s. Initially, this language was created to be used with the operating system UNIX. C is a general-purpose programming language that is mostly used for scripting applications.

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C is most commonly used for game development, apps, and graphics. Since it is not tied to any system or hardware, it is often referred to as a portable coding language. This means that if you write code on your computer in C, you’ll be able to use that same code on other machines without modifying it at all.

C works across all operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and Mac. Some main features of the language are that it is straightforward and requires only low-level memory access. It is a procedural coding language, which means it follows a set of commands.

What Is C Used For?

C is a beginner-friendly language that is mostly used for developing compilers, databases, and operating systems. Below, we’ll take a deeper look at some of its possible applications.


One of C’s main functions is graphics development. With C, you can create geometrical shapes and add simple animations to them. To do this, you must know how to initialize the function called initgraph.


You can develop database systems using C, but it will take more effort than building a database with a data-specific language like SQL. However, SQL was, in fact, developed with C, so you may notice some similarities.

Operating Systems

Operating system programming is one of C’s primary uses. An operating system is a computer system created to manage software applications and resources inside any device. C is the coding language of choice for many system applications within commonly used OS.

Learn C: Step-by-Step

Man working on a development project on his computer
Although it’s an elementary programming language, C is used in some advanced tech developments, such as the Internet of Things.

C is a very straightforward programming language that you should learn if you’d like to become a software developer. Understanding it will help you become more proficient in other coding languages. Below are some steps you should take to learn C.

1. Install a Compiler

The first thing you need to do is download and install a compiler, which is used to translate C into other programming languages. By doing this, the computer can understand your commands.

Each operating system will use a different compiler. For example, Mac users need to download XCode, while Linux users should download GCC.

2. Learn The Programming Fundamentals

Before diving into advanced C programming, you should make sure you understand the basics. C uses functions, which then allow you to work with loops to store data, conditional statements, and variables.

In the next steps, we will explain each function and how you can use them.

3. Don’t Forget to Comment Your Code

One of the best things you can do when programming in C is to comment on your .code. This will help you stay organized. By commenting, your instructions will be more precise, and  other developers will understand why you have used a particular command line.

Comments are also a good way to exclude code you don’t want to use without deleting it.

4. Understand Conditional Statements

Conditional statements are a fundamental programming concept. They are computational expressions that tell a machine perform different actions depending on whether the developer has used the value “true” or “false.”

A perfect example is passwords and logins. In this case, developers use an “if, then” conditional. If users use the correct login info, they’ll be able to access the platform; if they don’t, they’d be redirected to the login page.

5. Understand Variables

Variables are computational locations that help you store data from user input or from computations. Just like in math, you will need to define variables in order to use them for programming. This is called declaring.

All variables should be declared when writing in C. Declaring helps the compiler interpret the variable and how to use them.

6. Understand How Loops work

Understanding loops is one of the most crucial aspects of learning C. Loop definition is a programming element that allows you to repeat a portion of code until a condition is met.

This is important because it means you do not have to write new conditions over and over again. Once you understand how to add loops, you’ll be able to create repetitive blocks of code.

7. Use Functions

Functions are the best way to streamline an application. A function is a block of code that is reusable that will help you write clean code. The topics mentioned above are functions, but there are also many others.

8. Take a Coding Bootcamp

Taking a coding bootcamp is a great way to develop your C programming skills. Most coding bootcamps teach fundamental programming languages, including C. However, you should check the specifics of a course before signing up to make sure it focuses on the specific topics you want to learn.

9. Practice Daily

Learning how to code is just like learning any language. You need to understand the syntax and structure, then practice as much as you can. This is the only way to become fluent in a programming language.

You can even practice in your spare time with mobile apps such as Khan Academy and SoloLearn.

The Best C Courses

The best way to master C is to take a coding bootcamp. There are many courses that will teach you the fundamentals of this programming language. Below, we’ll show you some of the best ones.

Full-Time Computer Science & Software Engineering

This Lambda School course is a good choice for beginners because it teaches many computer science basics. The class can be taken either full-time or part-time and covers coding languages like SQL and HTML. Lambda School also allows students to study for free and pay tuition back once they are employed and provides career advice to students.

Coding Bootcamp

This Software Development Academy coding bootcamp will give you all the tools you need to learn C. It also covers other indispensable coding languages such as PHP, C++, HTML, and Java. This course is employment-oriented, so its curriculum is up-to-date with all of the newest tech industry trends.

Introduction to Computer Science

This 12-week EdX course will teach you about different areas within computer science, including programming in C. In the coursework, instructor David Malan will teach you about software security, algorithms, data structures, web development, and software engineering. This bootcamp costs $199.

Is Learning C Right for You?

C is a fundamental language from which many other languages have been derived. Although it is not the most advanced coding language, learning C will make it easier for you to understand more complex languages. If you want to become a better software engineer, you should definitely learn this key language.

It can also play an important role in helping you understand computer theories. Keep in mind that C is considered a beginners’ code, so it’s a great way to start your path to becoming a software developer.

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