In the console REPL, we can see that input is parsed in a certain way, that is not equivalent to simply calling ToExpression on the input string. From math.exe using Mathematica 13.1:

In[1]:= Print@"foo"\[NewLine]Print@"bar"

In[2]:= DownValues[In][[1]]

Out[2]= HoldPattern[In[1]] :> Print["foo"]

In[3]:= ToExpression[InString[1]]

As we can see, the Print["bar"] is discarded when assigning In[1], but not when assigning InString[1], and calling ToExpression on InString[1] evaluates both print statements. What is the meaning of this, and is there a function analogous to ToExpression which reproduces the former behavior?

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    $\begingroup$ Use Print@"foo"; Print@"bar" instead. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2022 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ I understand perfectly well that using CompoundExpression is correct. However, my specific question is, why does the console REPL parse my particular example input string differently from calling ToExpression on InputString? $\endgroup$
    – Walhiskaz
    Nov 23, 2022 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ Because the input you type is not a string, but output of InString[1] is a string. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2022 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ I supposed I do not understand in precise enough detail how the main loop works. I was under the impression, based on the documentation of $PreRead, that input is given into the main loop as a string, the value of PreRead applied, and only then parsed into an expression for evaluation. $\endgroup$
    – Walhiskaz
    Nov 23, 2022 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ I do not get the same results as you. When I open the kernel from the command line I get this, where you see that ToExpression[InString[1]] only prints "foo" and not "bar", which makes sense - I've tried on Windows, Linux, and Mac and cannot reproduce $\endgroup$
    – Jason B.
    Nov 23, 2022 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


Input that is typed is not a string but output of InString[1] is a string.

So if you use FullForm:

In[28]:= FullForm[InString[1]]

Out[28]//FullForm= "Print@\"foo\"\\[NewLine]Print@\"bar\""

you see that the string generated by InString is a bit different than what you typed. Or more precisely it is the same but it is enclosed inside "" which original input is not.

  • $\begingroup$ I find this confusing, because if you define a value such as $PreRead = (Print[FullForm[#]]; #) &; , then you will see that it prints the value of input string, but only then evaluates the input, but it /only evaluates the first Print statement/, indicating that it is doing something to the value of InputString other than simply calling ToExpression, as it does to code passed on the -run switch from the command line. This seems surprising to me, but perhaps I'm naive. $\endgroup$
    – Walhiskaz
    Nov 23, 2022 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ Based on some experimentation, it seems the main loop may be doing something like this: InString[1]//(Function[x,SetDelayed[In[1],x],HoldAllComplete]@@Take[ToExpression[#,InputForm,HoldComplete],1];Out[1]=In[1])& $\endgroup$
    – Walhiskaz
    Nov 23, 2022 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ Your code with $PreRead works as expected, what is wrong with it? It prints the full-form of the input as a string and then evaluates the original input same way as it would do without $PreRead. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2022 at 21:27

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