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In ASCII the character code decimal 38 (or $26) is defined to be & (pronounced “ampersand”).


octal base

In Pascal the & denotes an octal base number.

 1 program messageNo(input, output, stderr);
 3 uses
 4 	baseUnix;
 6 begin
 7 	// withdraw group write access to current terminal
 8 	// equivalent to invoking: mesg n
 9 	fpChmod('/dev/stdin', &0600);
10 end.

In an octal base only the characters 0 through and including 7 are allowed. An optional sign is specified in front of the &.

As a passing remark, in a production program the number in the above example is better written as

fpChmod('/dev/stdin', S_IRUSR or S_IWUSR);

since it is more meaningful than having a raw number. Pascal is a high-level language. Use this advantage. Write what you mean, not what in fact the computer does.

identifier escape

FreePascal retroactively declared some new reserved words. In order of being capable of compiling old code with an up-to-date compiler version, which might fail due to those new reserved words, FPC declared the & as an escape character. Thus, without refactoring the code but escaping, i.e. prepending an & to the identifier, the compiler accepts the actual reserved word as a valid identifier. New code though shall come up with different identifier names, without utilizing this feature.


In Lazarus the & is used to

navigation bar: topic: Pascal symbols
single characters

+ (plus)  •  - (minus)  •  * (asterisk)  •  / (slash)
= (equal)  •  > (greater than)  •  < (less than)
. (period)  •  : (colon)  •  ; (semi colon)
^ (hat)  •  @ (at)  •  $ (dollar sign)  •  & (ampersand)

character pairs

<> (not equal)  •  := (becomes)  •  >< (symmetric difference)  •  // (double slash)