Java Keywords and Identifiers

In this tutorial, you will learn about keywords; reserved words in Java programming. Also, you will learn about identifiers.

Java Keywords

Keywords are predefined, reserved words used in Java programming that have special meanings to the compiler. For example:

int score;

Here, int is a keyword. It indicates that the variable score is of integer type (32-bit signed two's complement integer).

You cannot use keywords like int, for, class etc as variable name (or identifiers) as they are part of the Java programming language syntax. Here's the complete list of all keywords in Java programming.

Java Keywords List
abstract assert boolean break byte
case catch char class const
continue default do double else
enum extends final finally float
for goto if implements import
instanceof int interface long native
new package private protected public
return short static strictfp super
switch synchronized this throw throws
transient try void volatile while

Beside these keywords, you cannot also use true, false and null as identifiers as they are literals.


Java identifiers

Identifiers are the name given to variables, classes, methods etc. Consider the above code;

int score;

Here, score is a variable (an identifier). You cannot use keywords as variable name. It's because keywords have predefined meaning. For example,

int float;

The above code is wrong. It's because float is a keyword and cannot be used as a variable name.

To learn more about variables, visit Java variables.


Rules for Naming an Identifier

  • Identifier cannot be a keyword.
  • Identifiers are case-sensitive.
  • It can have a sequence of letters and digits. However, it must begin with a letter, $ or _. The first letter of an identifier cannot be a digit.
  • It's convention to start an identifier with a letter rather and $ or _.
  • Whitespaces are not allowed.
  • Similarly, you cannot use symbols such as @, #, and so on.

Here are some valid identifiers:

  • score
  • level
  • highestScore
  • number1
  • convertToString

Here are some invalid identifiers:

  • class
  • float
  • 1number
  • highest Score
  • @pple