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The syntax of a programming language is the set of rules that define the combinations of symbols that are considered to be correctly structured programs in that language. The syntax of a language defines its surface form. Text-based programming languages are based on sequences of characters, while visual programming languages are based on the spatial layout and connections between symbols (which may be textual or graphical).

The syntax of a language describes the form of a valid program, but does not provide any information about the meaning of the program or the results of executing that program. The meaning given to a combination of symbols is handled by semantics (either formal or hard-coded in a reference implementation). Not all syntactically correct programs are semantically correct.

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