Understanding and Resolving 'Request for Member in Which is of Non-Class Type' Error in Programming

In this guide, we will explore the "request for member in which is of non-class type" error that you may encounter while programming, particularly in C++. We will discuss what it means, why it occurs, and how to fix it. Additionally, we will provide an FAQ section to address common questions related to this error message.

What does the error message mean?

The error message "request for member '' in '', which is of non-class type '___'" is a compiler error in C++ that occurs when you attempt to access a member variable or function of an object, but the object is not of a class type.

For example, consider the following code snippet:

int main() {
  int a;

Here, we are trying to call someMethod() on the object a, but a is of type int, which is not a class type. This would lead to the error message:

error: request for member 'someMethod' in 'a', which is of non-class type 'int'

Common causes and how to fix them

There are several common causes for this error message. Let's go through them one by one.

1. Incorrect usage of a non-class type

The most straightforward cause of this error is using a non-class type where a class type is expected. To fix this, ensure that you are using the correct types for your variables and objects. For example, if you meant to use a custom class MyClass instead of int, you should declare the object as follows:

MyClass a;

2. Misuse of pointers and references

Another common cause for this error is incorrect usage of pointers or references. For instance, if you have a pointer to an object, you should use the -> operator instead of the . operator to access its members.

MyClass *a = new MyClass();
a->someMethod(); // Correct
// a.someMethod(); // Incorrect, would cause the error

Similarly, for references, make sure to use the . operator with the reference itself, not the address of the reference:

MyClass &a = *somePointerToMyClass;
a.someMethod(); // Correct
// (&a).someMethod(); // Incorrect, would cause the error

3. Typo or incorrect method/variable name

Sometimes, the error might simply be caused by a typo or an incorrect method or variable name. Double-check the names of your class members to ensure they match the intended usage.


Q1: Can this error occur in other programming languages?

Yes, similar errors can occur in other object-oriented programming languages, such as Java or C#. The error message might be slightly different, but the underlying issue is the same – attempting to access a member of a non-class type.

Q2: Can this error occur with structs in C++?

Yes, this error can occur with structs as well. Structs in C++ are essentially classes with all members having public access by default. If you incorrectly access a member of a struct, you may encounter this error.

Q3: Can this error occur with arrays or other data structures?

Yes, this error can occur when attempting to access members of arrays or other non-class data structures, such as C-style arrays or std::vector.

Q4: How can I determine the type of a variable or object in C++?

You can use the typeid operator from the <typeinfo> header to determine the type of a variable or object at runtime. However, this is usually not necessary, as the compiler should be able to catch type mismatches at compile time.

While it's unlikely that this specific error is directly related to inheritance or polymorphism, it could be indirectly related if you incorrectly use pointers or references to base and derived classes. Make sure you are using the appropriate types and accessing members correctly.

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