You can find out how many elements there are in a list by using the Lisp
length, as in the following examples:
(length '(buttercup)) => 1 (length '(daisy buttercup)) => 2 (length (cons 'violet '(daisy buttercup))) => 3
In the third example, the
cons function is used to construct a
three element list which is then passed to the
length function as
We can also use
length to count the number of elements in an
(length ()) => 0
As you would expect, the number of elements in an empty list is zero.
An interesting experiment is to find out what happens if you try to find
the length of no list at all; that is, if you try to call
without giving it an argument, not even an empty list:
What you see, if you evaluate this, is the error message
Wrong number of arguments: #<subr length>, 0
This means that the function receives the wrong number of arguments, zero, when it expects some other number of arguments. In this case, one argument is expected, the argument being a list whose length the function is measuring. (Note that one list is one argument, even if the list has many elements inside it.)
The part of the error message that says #<subr length> is the
name of the function. This is written with a special notation,
#<subr, that indicates that the function
length is one
of the primitive functions written in C rather than in Emacs Lisp.
(subr is an abbreviation for `subroutine'.) See What Is a Function? (The GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual), for more about subroutines.