\[\begin{split}\newcommand{\as}{\kw{as}} \newcommand{\case}{\kw{case}} \newcommand{\cons}{\textsf{cons}} \newcommand{\consf}{\textsf{consf}} \newcommand{\emptyf}{\textsf{emptyf}} \newcommand{\End}{\kw{End}} \newcommand{\kwend}{\kw{end}} \newcommand{\even}{\textsf{even}} \newcommand{\evenO}{\textsf{even}_\textsf{O}} \newcommand{\evenS}{\textsf{even}_\textsf{S}} \newcommand{\Fix}{\kw{Fix}} \newcommand{\fix}{\kw{fix}} \newcommand{\for}{\textsf{for}} \newcommand{\forest}{\textsf{forest}} \newcommand{\Functor}{\kw{Functor}} \newcommand{\In}{\kw{in}} \newcommand{\ind}[3]{\kw{Ind}~[#1]\left(#2\mathrm{~:=~}#3\right)} \newcommand{\Indp}[4]{\kw{Ind}_{#4}[#1](#2:=#3)} \newcommand{\Indpstr}[5]{\kw{Ind}_{#4}[#1](#2:=#3)/{#5}} \newcommand{\injective}{\kw{injective}} \newcommand{\kw}[1]{\textsf{#1}} \newcommand{\length}{\textsf{length}} \newcommand{\letin}[3]{\kw{let}~#1:=#2~\kw{in}~#3} \newcommand{\List}{\textsf{list}} \newcommand{\lra}{\longrightarrow} \newcommand{\Match}{\kw{match}} \newcommand{\Mod}[3]{{\kw{Mod}}({#1}:{#2}\,\zeroone{:={#3}})} \newcommand{\ModImp}[3]{{\kw{Mod}}({#1}:{#2}:={#3})} \newcommand{\ModA}[2]{{\kw{ModA}}({#1}=={#2})} \newcommand{\ModS}[2]{{\kw{Mod}}({#1}:{#2})} \newcommand{\ModType}[2]{{\kw{ModType}}({#1}:={#2})} \newcommand{\mto}{.\;} \newcommand{\nat}{\textsf{nat}} \newcommand{\Nil}{\textsf{nil}} \newcommand{\nilhl}{\textsf{nil\_hl}} \newcommand{\nO}{\textsf{O}} \newcommand{\node}{\textsf{node}} \newcommand{\nS}{\textsf{S}} \newcommand{\odd}{\textsf{odd}} \newcommand{\oddS}{\textsf{odd}_\textsf{S}} \newcommand{\ovl}[1]{\overline{#1}} \newcommand{\Pair}{\textsf{pair}} \newcommand{\plus}{\mathsf{plus}} \newcommand{\SProp}{\textsf{SProp}} \newcommand{\Prop}{\textsf{Prop}} \newcommand{\return}{\kw{return}} \newcommand{\Set}{\textsf{Set}} \newcommand{\Sort}{\mathcal{S}} \newcommand{\Str}{\textsf{Stream}} \newcommand{\Struct}{\kw{Struct}} \newcommand{\subst}[3]{#1\{#2/#3\}} \newcommand{\tl}{\textsf{tl}} \newcommand{\tree}{\textsf{tree}} \newcommand{\trii}{\triangleright_\iota} \newcommand{\Type}{\textsf{Type}} \newcommand{\WEV}[3]{\mbox{$#1[] \vdash #2 \lra #3$}} \newcommand{\WEVT}[3]{\mbox{$#1[] \vdash #2 \lra$}\\ \mbox{$ #3$}} \newcommand{\WF}[2]{{\mathcal{W\!F}}(#1)[#2]} \newcommand{\WFE}[1]{\WF{E}{#1}} \newcommand{\WFT}[2]{#1[] \vdash {\mathcal{W\!F}}(#2)} \newcommand{\WFTWOLINES}[2]{{\mathcal{W\!F}}\begin{array}{l}(#1)\\\mbox{}[{#2}]\end{array}} \newcommand{\with}{\kw{with}} \newcommand{\WS}[3]{#1[] \vdash #2 <: #3} \newcommand{\WSE}[2]{\WS{E}{#1}{#2}} \newcommand{\WT}[4]{#1[#2] \vdash #3 : #4} \newcommand{\WTE}[3]{\WT{E}{#1}{#2}{#3}} \newcommand{\WTEG}[2]{\WTE{\Gamma}{#1}{#2}} \newcommand{\WTM}[3]{\WT{#1}{}{#2}{#3}} \newcommand{\zeroone}[1]{[{#1}]} \end{split}\]

Basic notions and conventions

This section provides some essential notions and conventions for reading the manual.

We start by explaining the syntax and lexical conventions used in the manual. Then, we present the essential vocabulary necessary to read the rest of the manual. Other terms are defined throughout the manual. The reader may refer to the glossary index for a complete list of defined terms. Finally, we describe the various types of settings that Coq provides.

Syntax and lexical conventions

Syntax conventions

The syntax described in this documentation is equivalent to that accepted by the Coq parser, but the grammar has been edited to improve readability and presentation.

In the grammar presented in this manual, the terminal symbols are black (e.g. forall), whereas the nonterminals are green, italic and hyperlinked (e.g. term). Some syntax is represented graphically using the following kinds of blocks:


An optional item.


A list of one or more items.


An optional list of items.


A list of one or more items separated by "s" (e.g. item1 s item2 s item3).


An optional list of items separated by "s".


Alternatives (either item1 or item2 or ...).

Precedence levels that are implemented in the Coq parser are shown in the documentation by appending the level to the nonterminal name (as in term100 or ltac_expr3).


Coq uses an extensible parser. Plugins and the notation system can extend the syntax at run time. Some notations are defined in the prelude, which is loaded by default. The documented grammar doesn't include these notations. Precedence levels not used by the base grammar are omitted from the documentation, even though they could still be populated by notations or plugins.

Furthermore, some parsing rules are only activated in certain contexts (proof mode, custom entries...).


Given the complexity of these parsing rules, it would be extremely difficult to create an external program that can properly parse a Coq document. Therefore, tool writers are advised to delegate parsing to Coq, by communicating with it, for instance through SerAPI.

See also

Print Grammar

Lexical conventions


Space, newline and horizontal tab are considered blanks. Blanks are ignored but they separate tokens.


Comments are enclosed between (* and *). They can be nested. They can contain any character. However, embedded string literals must be correctly closed. Comments are treated as blanks.


Identifiers, written ident, are sequences of letters, digits, _ and ', that do not start with a digit or '. That is, they are recognized by the following grammar (except that the string _ is reserved; it is not a valid identifier):

ident::=first_letter subsequent_letter*first_letter::=a .. zA .. Z_unicode_lettersubsequent_letter::=first_letterdigit'unicode_id_part

All characters are meaningful. In particular, identifiers are case-sensitive. unicode_letter non-exhaustively includes Latin, Greek, Gothic, Cyrillic, Arabic, Hebrew, Georgian, Hangul, Hiragana and Katakana characters, CJK ideographs, mathematical letter-like symbols and non-breaking space. unicode_id_part non-exhaustively includes symbols for prime letters and subscripts.


Numbers are sequences of digits with an optional fractional part and exponent, optionally preceded by a minus sign. Hexadecimal numbers start with 0x or 0X. integers are signed numbers without fraction or exponent parts. naturals are non-negative integers. Underscores embedded in the digits are ignored, for example 1_000_000 is the same as 1000000.

number::=-? decnat . digit_+? eE +-? decnat?|-? hexnat . hexdigit_+? pP +-? decnat?integer::=bigintbigint::=-? bignatnatural::=bignatbignat::=decnathexnatdecnat::=digit digit_*digit::=0 .. 9hexnat::=0x0X hexdigit hexdigit_*hexdigit::=0 .. 9a .. fA .. F

number, bigint and bignat, which are used in terms, generally have no range limitation. integer and natural, which are used as arguments in tactics and commands, are limited to the range that fits into an OCaml integer (63-bit integers on most architectures).

The standard library provides a few interpretations for number. Some of these interpretations support exponential notation for decimal numbers, for example 5.02e-6 means 5.02×10-6; and base 2 exponential notation for hexadecimal numbers denoted by p or P, for example 0xAp12 means 10×212. The Number Notation mechanism lets the user define custom parsers and printers for number.

By default, numbers are interpreted as nats, which is a unary representation. For example, 3 is represented as S (S (S O)). While this is a convenient representation for doing proofs, computing with large nats can lead to stack overflows or running out of memory. You can explicitly specify a different interpretation to avoid this problem. For example, 1000000%Z is a more efficient binary representation of that number as an integer. See Notation scopes and term_scope.

Example: Stack overflow with nat

Fail Eval compute in 100000 + 100000. (* gives a stack overflow (not shown) *)
The command has indeed failed with message: To avoid stack overflow, large numbers in nat are interpreted as applications of Nat.of_num_uint. [abstract-large-number,numbers,default]
Require Import ZArith. (* for definition of Z *)
[Loading ML file ring_plugin.cmxs (using legacy method) ... done] [Loading ML file zify_plugin.cmxs (using legacy method) ... done] [Loading ML file micromega_core_plugin.cmxs (using legacy method) ... done] [Loading ML file micromega_plugin.cmxs (using legacy method) ... done] [Loading ML file btauto_plugin.cmxs (using legacy method) ... done]
Eval compute in (1000000000000000000000000000000000 + 1)%Z.
= 1000000000000000000000000000000001%Z : Z

Strings begin and end with " (double quote). Use "" to represent a double quote character within a string. In the grammar, strings are identified with string.

The String Notation mechanism offers the user a way to define custom parsers and printers for string.


The following character sequences are keywords defined in the main Coq grammar that cannot be used as identifiers (even when starting Coq with the -noinit command-line flag):

_ Axiom CoFixpoint Definition Fixpoint Hypothesis Parameter Prop
SProp Set Theorem Type Variable as at cofix else end
fix for forall fun if in let match return then where with

The following are keywords defined in notations or plugins loaded in the prelude:

by exists exists2 using

Note that loading additional modules or plugins may expand the set of reserved keywords.

Print Keywords can be used to print the current keywords and tokens.

Other tokens

The following character sequences are tokens defined in the main Coq grammar (even when starting Coq with the -noinit command-line flag):

! #[ % & ' ( () ) * + , - ->
. .( .. ... / : ::= := :> ; < <+ <- <:
<<: <= = => > >-> >= ? @ @{ [ ] _
`( `{ { {| | }

The following character sequences are tokens defined in notations or plugins loaded in the prelude:

** |- || ->

Note that loading additional modules or plugins may expand the set of defined tokens.

When multiple tokens match the beginning of a sequence of characters, the longest matching token not cutting a subsequence of contiguous letters in the middle is used. Occasionally you may need to insert spaces to separate tokens. For example, if ~ and ~~ are both defined as tokens, the inputs ~ ~ and ~~ generate different tokens, whereas if ~~ is not defined, then the two inputs are equivalent. Also, if ~ and ~_h are both defined as tokens, the input ~_ho is interpreted as ~ _ho rather than ~_h o so as not to cut the identifier-like subsequence ho. Contrastingly, if only ~_h is defined as a token, then ~_ho is an error because no token can be found that includes the whole subsequence ho without cutting it in the middle. Finally, if all of ~, ~_h and ~_ho are defined as tokens, the input ~_ho is interpreted using the longest match rule, i.e. as the token ~_ho.

Essential vocabulary

This section presents the most essential notions to understand the rest of the Coq manual: terms and types on the one hand, commands and tactics on the other hand.


Terms are the basic expressions of Coq. Terms can represent mathematical expressions, propositions and proofs, but also executable programs and program types.

Here is the top-level syntax of terms. Each of the listed constructs is presented in a dedicated section. Some of these constructs (like term_forall_or_fun) are part of the core language that the kernel of Coq understands and are therefore described in this chapter, while others (like term_if) are language extensions that are presented in the next chapter.

term::=term100term100::=term_cast|term10term10::=term_application|term_forall_or_fun|term_let|term_fix|term_cofix|term_if|one_termone_term::=term_explicit|term1term1::=term_projection|term_scope|term0term0::=qualid_annotated|sort|number_or_string|term_evar|term_match|term_record|term_generalizing|[| term*; | term : type? |] univ_annot?|term_ltac|( term )qualid_annotated::=qualid univ_annot?


Many commands and tactics use one_term (in the syntax of their arguments) rather than term. The former need to be enclosed in parentheses unless they're very simple, such as a single identifier. This avoids confusing a space-separated list of terms or identifiers with a term_application.


To be valid and accepted by the Coq kernel, a term needs an associated type. We express this relationship by “\(x\) of type \(T\)”, which we write as “\(x:T\)”. Informally, “\(x:T\)” can be thought as “\(x\) belongs to \(T\)”.

The Coq kernel is a type checker: it verifies that a term has the expected type by applying a set of typing rules (see Typing rules). If that's indeed the case, we say that the term is well-typed.

A special feature of the Coq language is that types can depend on terms (we say that the language is dependently-typed). Because of this, types and terms share a common syntax. All types are terms, but not all terms are types. The syntactic aliases type and one_type are used to make clear when the provided term must semantically be a type:


Intuitively, types may be viewed as sets containing terms. We say that a type is inhabited if it contains at least one term (i.e. if we can find a term which is associated with this type). We call such terms inhabitants. Note that deciding whether a type is inhabited is undecidable.

Formally, types can be used to construct logical foundations for mathematics alternative to the standard "set theory": we call such logical foundations "type theories". Coq is based on the Calculus of Inductive Constructions, which is a particular instance of type theory.


Coq documents are made of a series of sentences that contain commands or tactics, generally terminated with a period and optionally decorated with attributes.

document::=sentence*sentence::=attributes? command .|attributes? natural :? query_command .|attributes? toplevel_selector :? ltac_expr ....|control_command

ltac_expr syntax supports both simple and compound tactics. For example: split is a simple tactic while split; auto combines two simple tactics.


A command can be used to modify the state of a Coq document, for instance by declaring a new object, or to get information about the current state.

By convention, command names begin with uppercase letters. Commands appear in the HTML documentation in blue or gray boxes after the label "Command". In the pdf, they appear after the boldface label "Command:". Commands are listed in the Command index. Example:

Command Comments one_termstringnatural*

Prints "Comments ok" and does not change the state of the document.


A tactic specifies how to transform the current proof state as a step in creating a proof. They are syntactically valid only when Coq is in proof mode, such as after a Theorem command and before any subsequent proof-terminating command such as Qed. See Proof mode for more on proof mode.

By convention, tactic names begin with lowercase letters. Tactic appear in the HTML documentation in blue or gray boxes after the label "Tactic". In the pdf, they appear after the boldface label "Tactic:". Tactics are listed in the Tactic index.


There are several mechanisms for changing the behavior of Coq. The attribute mechanism is used to modify the default behavior of a sentence or to attach information to Coq objects. The flag, option and table mechanisms are used to modify the behavior of Coq more globally in a document or project.


An attribute is used to modify the default behavior of a sentence or to attach information to a Coq object. Syntactically, most commands and tactics can be decorated with attributes (cf. sentence), but attributes not supported by the command or tactic will trigger This command does not support this attribute. There is also a command Attributes to assign attributes to a whole document.

attributes::=#[ attribute*, ]* legacy_attr*attribute::=ident attr_value?attr_value::== string|= qualid|( attribute+, )legacy_attr::=LocalGlobal|PolymorphicMonomorphic|CumulativeNonCumulative|Private|Program

The order of top-level attributes doesn't affect their meaning. #[foo,bar], #[bar,foo], #[foo]#[bar] and #[bar]#[foo] are equivalent.

Boolean attributes take the form identattr= yesno?. When the yesno value is omitted, the default is yes.

The legacy attributes (legacy_attr) provide an older, alternate syntax for certain attributes. They are equivalent to new attributes as follows:

Legacy attribute

New attribute





Polymorphic, Monomorphic


Cumulative, NonCumulative






Attributes appear in the HTML documentation in blue or gray boxes after the label "Attribute". In the pdf, they appear after the boldface label "Attribute:". Attributes are listed in the Attribute index.

Warning This command does not support this attribute: ident.

This warning is configured to behave as an error by default. You may turn it into a normal warning by using the Warnings option:

Set Silent.
Set Warnings "unsupported-attributes".
#[ foo ] Comments.
Toplevel input, characters 3-6: > #[ foo ] Comments. > ^^^ Warning: This command does not support this attribute: foo. [unsupported-attributes,parsing,default]

Generic attributes

The following attribute is supported by every command:

Attribute warnings = string

Sets the given warning string locally for the command. After the command finishes the warning state is reset to what it was before the command. For instance if the current warning state is some-warnings,-other-warning,

#[warnings="+other-warning"] Command.

is equivalent to

Set Warnings "+other-warning". Command. Set Warnings "some-warnings,-other-warning".

and other-warning is an error while executing the command.

Consequently, using this attribute around an Import command will prevent it from changing the warning state.

See also Warnings for the concrete syntax to use inside the quoted string.

Attribute warning = string

Alias of warnings.

Document-level attributes

Command Attributes attribute+,

Associates attributes with the document. When compiled with coqc (see Section Coq commands), the attributes are associated with the compiled file and may have an effect when the file is loaded with Require. Supported attributes include deprecated and warn.

Flags, Options and Tables

The following types of settings can be used to change the behavior of Coq in subsequent commands and tactics (see Locality attributes supported by Set and Unset for a more precise description of the scope of these settings):


Flags, options and tables are identified by a series of identifiers. By convention, each of the identifiers start with an initial capital letter.

Flags, options and tables appear in the HTML documentation in blue or gray boxes after the labels "Flag", "Option" and "Table". In the pdf, they appear after a boldface label. They are listed in the Flags, options and tables index.

Command Set setting_name integerstring?

If setting_name is a flag, no value may be provided; the flag is set to on. If setting_name is an option, a value of the appropriate type must be provided; the option is set to the specified value.

This command supports the local, global and export attributes. They are described here.

Warning There is no flag or option with this name: "setting_name".

This warning message can be raised by Set and Unset when setting_name is unknown. It is a warning rather than an error because this helps library authors produce Coq code that is compatible with several Coq versions. To preserve the same behavior, they may need to set some compatibility flags or options that did not exist in previous Coq versions.

Command Unset setting_name

If setting_name is a flag, it is set to off. If setting_name is an option, it is set to its default value.

This command supports the local, global and export attributes. They are described here.

Command Add setting_name qualidstring+

Adds the specified values to the table setting_name.

Command Remove setting_name qualidstring+

Removes the specified value from the table setting_name.

Command Test setting_name for qualidstring+?

If setting_name is a flag or option, prints its current value. If setting_name is a table: if the for clause is specified, reports whether the table contains each specified value, otherwise this is equivalent to Print Table. The for clause is not valid for flags and options.

Error There is no flag, option or table with this name: "setting_name".

This error message is raised when calling the Test command (without the for clause), or the Print Table command, for an unknown setting_name.

Error There is no qualid-valued table with this name: "setting_name".
Error There is no string-valued table with this name: "setting_name".

These error messages are raised when calling the Add or Remove commands, or the Test command with the for clause, if setting_name is unknown or does not have the right type.

Command Print Options

Prints the current value of all flags and options, and the names of all tables.

Command Print Table setting_name

Prints the values in the table setting_name.

Command Print Tables

A synonym for Print Options.

Locality attributes supported by Set and Unset

The Set and Unset commands support the mutually exclusive local, export and global locality attributes.

If no attribute is specified, the original value of the flag or option is restored at the end of the current module but it is not restored at the end of the current section.

Newly opened modules and sections inherit the current settings.


We discourage using the global locality attribute with the Set and Unset commands. If your goal is to define project-wide settings, you should rather use the command-line arguments -set and -unset for setting flags and options (see Command line options).