Alternative syntax for control structures

(PHP 4, PHP 5, PHP 7, PHP 8)

PHP offers an alternative syntax for some of its control structures; namely, if, while, for, foreach, and switch. In each case, the basic form of the alternate syntax is to change the opening brace to a colon (:) and the closing brace to endif;, endwhile;, endfor;, endforeach;, or endswitch;, respectively.

<?php if ($a == 5): ?>
A is equal to 5
<?php endif; ?>

In the above example, the HTML block "A is equal to 5" is nested within an if statement written in the alternative syntax. The HTML block would be displayed only if $a is equal to 5.

The alternative syntax applies to else and elseif as well. The following is an if structure with elseif and else in the alternative format:

if ($a == 5):
"a equals 5";
elseif (
$a == 6):
"a equals 6";
"a is neither 5 nor 6";


Mixing syntaxes in the same control block is not supported.


Any output (including whitespace) between a switch statement and the first case will result in a syntax error. For example, this is invalid:

<?php switch ($foo): ?>
<?php case 1: ?>
<?php endswitch; ?>

Whereas this is valid, as the trailing newline after the switch statement is considered part of the closing ?> and hence nothing is output between the switch and case:

<?php switch ($foo): ?>
case 1: ?>
<?php endswitch; ?>

See also while, for, and if for further examples.

add a note

User Contributed Notes 1 note

2 years ago
I feel compelled to give a more elegant way using heredoc than the other comment:

<?php foreach($list as $item): echo
<li id="itm-$item[number]">Item $item[name]</li>

Which works better with multi line blocks, as you only need one overall php tag.

(please don't omit the closing </li> tag despite it being legal, personal preference)
To Top