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Whitespace consists of all spaces, tabs, and newlines.

It is used to separate tokens and to make a program more readable. As long as the tokens are distinguishable, adding or subtracting whitespace has no effect on the meaning of a program. For example, the following lines of code both have the same meaning:

x = 2 ;

Some of the C++ operators consist of multiple characters. In order to preserve these tokens, whitespace cannot appear within them. In the example below, the first line uses a right shift operator ('>>'), but in the second line the added space causes the '>' symbols to be interpreted as two separate tokens and thus results in a compiler error.

x = 1 >> 4; // set x to 1 right shifted by 4 bits
x = 1 > > 4; // error