From: PerlFAQ Server on
This is an excerpt from the latest version perlfaq4.pod, which
comes with the standard Perl distribution. These postings aim to
reduce the number of repeated questions as well as allow the community
to review and update the answers. The latest version of the complete
perlfaq is at .


4.39: What is the difference between a list and an array?

An array has a changeable length. A list does not. An array is something
you can push or pop, while a list is a set of values. Some people make
the distinction that a list is a value while an array is a variable.
Subroutines are passed and return lists, you put things into list
context, you initialize arrays with lists, and you "foreach()" across a
list. "@" variables are arrays, anonymous arrays are arrays, arrays in
scalar context behave like the number of elements in them, subroutines
access their arguments through the array @_, and "push"/"pop"/"shift"
only work on arrays.

As a side note, there's no such thing as a list in scalar context. When
you say

$scalar = (2, 5, 7, 9);

you're using the comma operator in scalar context, so it uses the scalar
comma operator. There never was a list there at all! This causes the
last value to be returned: 9.


The perlfaq-workers, a group of volunteers, maintain the perlfaq. They
are not necessarily experts in every domain where Perl might show up,
so please include as much information as possible and relevant in any
corrections. The perlfaq-workers also don't have access to every
operating system or platform, so please include relevant details for
corrections to examples that do not work on particular platforms.
Working code is greatly appreciated.

If you'd like to help maintain the perlfaq, see the details in