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Re: pcase and minus-sign

From: Michael Heerdegen
Subject: Re: pcase and minus-sign
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2016 16:34:08 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.1.50 (gnu/linux)

Andreas Röhler <> writes:

> But what make the char `a' so special WRT char `1'?:
> (defun foo (arg)
>   (interactive "P")
>   (pcase arg
>     (1 (message "%s" "ARG was `1'"))
>     (a (message "%s" "ARG was `a'"))
>     ('- (message "%s" "ARG was minus-sign"))
>     (_ (message "%s" "ARG not minus-sign"))))

The Lisp reader maps "a" to a symbol, but "1" to an integer.  As pcase
patterns, symbols and integers have a different meaning.

If pcase could only match against atoms, this would be strange.  But
pcase is not `case', and as already has been mentioned, being able to
use variables in patterns (for binding or equivalence tests) is very

If you want to test whether your ARG is `equal' to some VALUE, you can
always use 'VALUE as pattern.  This is very consistent and easy to
remember.  Anything not quoted has a different meaning as a pattern.
There is one exception: if VALUE is actually a keyword, an integer, or a
string, you can omit the quote (as you do above for "1") - but you don't
need to omit it.  Symbols that are not keywords are not included in this
list, because they already have a different meaning.


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