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Lexical conventions in Verilog are similar to C in the sense that it contains a stream of tokens. Its important to note that Verilog is case-sensitive and hence the name var_a is different from var_A. A lexical token may consist of one or more characters and tokens can be comments, keywords, numbers, strings or white space. All lines should be terminated by a semi-colon ;.


White space is a term used to represent the characters for spaces, tabs, newlines and formfeeds, and is usually ignored by Verilog except when it separates tokens. In fact, this helps in the indentation of code to make it easier to read. However blanks(spaces) and tabs (from TAB key) are not ignored in strings.

module dut;                  // Tokens module (keyword) and dut (identifier)
  string name = "Hello!";   // There are 2 spaces in the beginning of this line 
string addr = "Earth ";     // There is no space in the beginning of this line, but there's a space in the string


There are two ways to write comments in Verilog. A single line comment starts with // and tells Verilog compiler to treat everything after this point to the end of the line as a comment. A multiple-line comment starts with /* and ends with */ and cannot be nested. However, single line comments can be nested in a multiple line comment.

// This is a single line comment

int a;   // Creates an int variable called a, and treats everything to the right of // as a comment

This is a 
multiple-line or
block comment

/* This is /*
an invalid nested 
block comment */

/* However,
// this one is okay

// This is also okay
///////////// Still okay


There are three types of operators: unary, binary, and ternary or conditional.

  • Unary operators shall appear to the left of their operand
  • Binray operators shall appear between their operands
  • Conditional operators have two separate operators that separate three operands
x = ~y;                // ~ is a unary operator, and y is the operand
x = y | z;             // | is a binary operator, where y and z are its operands
x = (y > 5) ? w : z;   // ?: is a ternary operator, and the expression (y>5), w and z are its operands

If the expression (y > 5) is true, then variable x will get the value in w, else the value in z.

Number Format


Sized numbers are represented as shown below, where size is written only in decimal to specify the number of bits in the number.

base_format can be either decimal ('d or 'D), hexadecimal ('h or 'H) and octal ('o or 'O) and specifies what base the number part represents. number is specified as consecutive digits from 0, 1, 2 ... 9 for decimal base format and 0, 1, 2 .. 9, A, B, C, D, E, F for hexadecimal. Uppercase letters are legal for number specification when the base format is hexadecimal.

3'b010;     // size is 3, base format is binary ('b), and the number is 010 (indicates value 2 in binary)
3'd2;       // size is 3, base format is decimal ('d) and the number is 2 (specified in decimals)
8'h70;      // size is 8, base format is hexadecimal ('h) and the number is 0x70 (in hex) to represent decimal 112
9'h1FA;     // size is 9, base format is hexadecimal ('h) and the number is 0x1FA (in hex) to represent decimal 506

4'hA = 4'd10 = 4'b1010 = 4'o12	// Decimal 10 can be represented in any of the four formats
8'd234 = 8'D234                 // Legal to use either lower case or upper case for base format
32'hFACE_47B2;                  // Underscore (_) can be used to separate 16 bit numbers for readability

Numbers without a base_format specification are decimal numbers by default. Numbers without a size specification have a default number of bits depending on the type of simulator and machine.

int a = 5423;       // base format is not specified, a gets a decimal value of 5423
int a = 'h1AD7;     // size is not specified, because a is int (32 bits) value stored in a = 32'h0000_1AD7

Negative numbers are specified by placing a minus - sign before the size of a number. It is illegal to have a minus sign between base_format and number.

-6'd3;            // 8-bit negative number stored as two's complement of 3
-6'sd9;           // For signed maths
8'd-4;            // Illegal


A sequence of characters enclosed in a double quote " " is called a string. It cannot be split into multiple lines and every character in the string take 1-byte to be stored.

"Hello World!"        // String with 12 characters -> require 12 bytes
"x + z"               // String with 5 characters

"How are you
feeling today ?"      // Illegal for a string to be split into multiple lines


Identifiers are names of variables so that they can be referenced later on. They are made up of alphanumeric characters [a-z][A-Z][0-9], underscores _ or dollar sign $ and are case sensitive. They cannot start with a digit or a dollar sign.

int var_a;        // Identifier contains alphabets and underscore -> Valid
int $var_a;       // Identifier starts with $ -> Invalid
int v$ar_a;       // Identifier contains alphabets and $ -> Valid
int 2var;         // Identifier starts with a digit -> Invalid
int var23_g;      // Identifier contains alphanumeric characters and underscore -> Valid
int 23;           // Identifier contains only numbers -> Invalid


Keywords are special identifiers reserved to define the language constructs and are in lower case. A list of important keywords is given below.

verilog keywords

Verilog Revisions

Verilog has undergone a couple of revisions over the years and a few changes from 1995 to 2001 is captured in the image below.

verilog revisions

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