Assignment Operators

The basic assignment operator is "=". Your first inclination might be to think of this as "equal to". Don't. It really means that the left operand gets set to the value of the expression on the rights (that is, "gets set to").

The value of an assignment expression is the value assigned. That is, the value of "$a = 3" is 3. This allows you to do some tricky things:

<?php

$a 
= ($b 4) + 5// $a is equal to 9 now, and $b has been set to 4.

?>

For arrays, assigning a value to a named key is performed using the "=>" operator. The precedence of this operator is the same as other assignment operators.

In addition to the basic assignment operator, there are "combined operators" for all of the binary arithmetic, array union and string operators that allow you to use a value in an expression and then set its value to the result of that expression. For example:

<?php

$a 
3;
$a += 5// sets $a to 8, as if we had said: $a = $a + 5;
$b "Hello ";
$b .= "There!"// sets $b to "Hello There!", just like $b = $b . "There!";

?>

Note that the assignment copies the original variable to the new one (assignment by value), so changes to one will not affect the other. This may also have relevance if you need to copy something like a large array inside a tight loop. Assignment by reference is also supported, using the $var = &$othervar; syntax. 'Assignment by reference' means that both variables end up pointing at the same data, and nothing is copied anywhere. To learn more about references, please read References explained. As of PHP 5, objects are assigned by reference unless explicitly told otherwise with the new clone keyword.

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User Contributed Notes 6 notes

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66
straz at mac dot nospam dot com
10 years ago
This page really ought to have table of assignment operators,
namely,

See the Arithmetic Operators page (http://www.php.net/manual/en/language.operators.arithmetic.php)
Assignment    Same as:
$a += $b     $a = $a + $b    Addition
$a -= $b     $a = $a - $b     Subtraction
$a *= $b     $a = $a * $b     Multiplication
$a /= $b     $a = $a / $b    Division
$a %= $b     $a = $a % $b    Modulus

See the String Operators page(http://www.php.net/manual/en/language.operators.string.php)
$a .= $b     $a = $a . $b       Concatenate

See the Bitwise Operators page (http://www.php.net/manual/en/language.operators.bitwise.php)
$a &= $b     $a = $a & $b     Bitwise And
$a |= $b     $a = $a | $b      Bitwise Or
$a ^= $b     $a = $a ^ $b       Bitwise Xor
$a <<= $b     $a = $a << $b     Left shift
$a >>= $b     $a = $a >> $b      Right shift
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10
Peter, Moscow
3 years ago
Using $text .= "additional text"; instead of $text =  $text ."additional text"; can seriously enhance performance due to memory allocation efficiency.

I reduced execution time from 5 sec to .5 sec (10 times) by simply switching to the first pattern for a loop with 900 iterations over a string $text that reaches 800K by the end.
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6
Hayley Watson
6 years ago
bradlis7 at bradlis7 dot com's description is a bit confusing. Here it is rephrased.

<?php
$a
= 'a';
$b = 'b';

$a .= $b .= "foo";

echo
$a,"\n",$b;?>
outputs

abfoo
bfoo

Because the assignment operators are right-associative and evaluate to the result of the assignment
<?php
$a
.= $b .= "foo";
?>
is equivalent to
<?php
$a
.= ($b .= "foo");
?>
and therefore
<?php
$b
.= "foo";
$a .= $b;
?>
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2
bradlis7 at bradlis7 dot com
8 years ago
Note whenever you do this

<?php
$a
.= $b .= "bla bla";
?>

it comes out to be the same as the following:

<?php
$a
.= $b."bla bla";
$b .= "bla bla";
?>

So $a actually becomes $a and the final $b string. I'm sure it's the same with numerical assignments (+=, *=...).
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-1
Hayley Watson
6 years ago
You could also take adam at gmail dot com's xor-assignment operator and use the fact that it's right-associative:

$a ^= $b ^= $a ^= $b;
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-4
haubertj at alfredstate dot edu
2 years ago
[[   Editor's note: You are much better off using the foreach (array_expression as $key => $value) control structure in this case   ]]

When using

<php
while ($var = current($array) {
#do stuff
next($aray)
?>

to process an array, if current($array) happens to be falsy but not === false it will still end the loop.  In such a case strict typing must be used.

Like this:

<php
while (($var = current($array)) !== FALSE) {
#do stuff
next($aray)
?>

Of course if your array may contain actual FALSE values you will have to deal with those some other way.
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