• Start Date: 2014-09-28
  • RFC PR: #463
  • Rust Issue: #19088


Include identifiers immediately after literals in the literal token to allow future expansion, e.g. "foo"bar and a 1baz are considered whole (but semantically invalid) tokens, rather than two separate tokens "foo", bar and 1, baz respectively. This allows future expansion of handling literals without risking breaking (macro) code.


Currently a few kinds of literals (integers and floats) can have a fixed set of suffixes and other kinds do not include any suffixes. The valid suffixes on numbers are:

u, u8, u16, u32, u64
i, i8, i16, i32, i64
f32, f64

Most things not in this list are just ignored and treated as an entirely separate token (prefixes of 128 are errors: e.g. 1u12 has an error "invalid int suffix"), and similarly any suffixes on other literals are also separate tokens. For example:


// makes a tuple
macro_rules! foo( ($($a: expr)*) => { ($($a, )+) } )

fn main() {
    let bar = "suffix";
    let y = "suffix";

    let t: (uint, uint) = foo!(1u256);
    println!("{}", foo!("foo"bar));
    println!("{}", foo!('x'y));
(1, 256)
(foo, suffix)
(x, suffix)

The compiler is eating the 1u and then seeing the invalid suffix 256 and so treating that as a separate token, and similarly for the string and character literals. (This problem is only visible in macros, since that is the only place where two literals/identifiers can be placed directly adjacent.)

This behaviour means we would be unable to expand the possibilities for literals after freezing the language/macros, which would be unfortunate, since user defined literals in C++ are reportedly very nice, proposals for “bit data” would like to use types like u1 and u5 (e.g. RFC PR 327), and there are “fringe” types like f16, f128 and u128 that have uses but are not common enough to warrant adding to the language now.

Detailed design

The tokenizer will have grammar literal: raw_literal identifier? where raw_literal covers strings, characters and numbers without suffixes (e.g. "foo", 'a', 1, 0x10).

Examples of “valid” literals after this change (that is, entities that will be consumed as a single token):

"foo"bar "foo"_baz
'a'x 'a'_y

15u16 17i18 19f20 21.22f23
0b11u25 0x26i27 28.29e30f31

123foo 0.0bar

Placing a space between the letter of the suffix and the literal will cause it to be parsed as two separate tokens, just like today. That is "foo"bar is one token, "foo" bar is two tokens.

The example above would then be an error, something like:

    let t: (uint, uint) = foo!(1u256); // error: literal with unsupported size
    println!("{}", foo!("foo"bar)); // error: literal with unsupported suffix
    println!("{}", foo!('x'y)); // error: literal with unsupported suffix

The above demonstrates that numeric suffixes could be special cased to detect u<...> and i<...> to give more useful error messages.

(The macro example there is definitely an error because it is using the incorrectly-suffixed literals as exprs. If it was only handling them as a token, i.e. tt, there is the possibility that it wouldn’t have to be illegal, e.g. stringify!(1u256) doesn’t have to be illegal because the 1u256 never occurs at runtime/in the type system.)


None beyond outlawing placing a literal immediately before a pattern, but the current behaviour can easily be restored with a space: 123u 456. (If a macro is using this for the purpose of hacky generalised literals, the unresolved question below touches on this.)


Don’t do this, or consider doing it for adjacent suffixes with an alternative syntax, e.g. 10'bar or 10$bar.

Unresolved questions

  • Should it be the parser or the tokenizer rejecting invalid suffixes? This is effectively asking if it is legal for syntax extensions to be passed the raw literals? That is, can a foo procedural syntax extension accept and handle literals like foo!(1u2)?

  • Should this apply to all expressions, e.g. (1 + 2)bar?