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Conversion Constructor in C++


Constructors are unique member functions in C++ that initialize objects belonging to a class. When an object is created, they are automatically called. Conversion constructors, commonly referred to as single-argument constructors or converting constructors, are an effective C++ feature that allow for implicit conversions between various types. The idea of conversion constructors, their function, syntax, and usage, as well as certain recommended practices, will all be covered in this article.

1. The Need for Conversion Constructors

When it comes to implicitly converting one kind of object into another, C++'s conversion constructors are absolutely essential. Through assignments, function calls, and expressions, they make it possible for one type to be automatically converted into another. By enabling simple and straightforward conversions between related types, this facilitates code simplification and enhances readability.

2. Syntax of Conversion Constructors

A conversion constructor has a similar syntax to a standard constructor but only accepts one parameter that is of a different type. Not even void is a return type for it. Let's look at an illustration:

We have a conversion constructor for a class named Destination in the aforementioned example. It requires an int argument that stands in for the distance. The conversion constructor is automatically invoked when a Destination object is created with an int value.

3. Implicit and Explicit Conversions

Conversions in C++ might be explicit or implicit. While explicit conversions need the use of explicit type casts, implicit conversions are carried out automatically by the compiler whenever appropriate.

Objects of one type can be produced from objects of another type without any explicit type casting thanks to conversion constructors, which enable implicit conversions. For instance:

The conversion constructor is used in the code sample above to implicitly convert an int value distance to a Destination object.

4. Overloading Conversion Constructors

Conversion constructors can also be overloaded to handle several parameter types, just like ordinary constructors can. As a result, the kinds that can be transformed are flexible. Let's look at an illustration:

The Time class in the above example includes two conversion constructors. While the other accepts a double to represent seconds, the first allows two integers to represent hours and minutes. This enables us to construct Time objects with various parameter types:

5. Avoiding Ambiguities

It is crucial to be aware of any potential misunderstandings while using conversion builders because there are several possible conversions. When more than one constructor may be called with a specific set of inputs, ambiguities develop.

Consider the following example:

Now, if we try to create a Distance object with an int argument, the compiler may not know which constructor to invoke:

6. Best Practices for Using Conversion Constructors

When utilizing conversion constructors, keep the following recommendations in mind:

Conversion constructors should only be used sparingly as too many implicit conversions might cause problems.

To increase readability, steer clear of pointless conversions and aim for explicitness in your code.

To avoid potential issues, designate constructors that shouldn't be used for implicit conversions with the explicit keyword.


Conversion constructors are a useful C++ feature that make implicit conversions between various types easier and more comprehensible. They enable the automated creation of objects from types that are compatible. Developers may efficiently use conversion constructors and create cleaner, more maintainable code by understanding their syntax, use, and recommended practices.

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