An argument can be a symbol that returns a value when it is evaluated.
For example, when the symbol
fill-column by itself is evaluated,
it returns a number. This number can be used in an addition.
Position the cursor after the following expression and type C-x C-e:
(+ 2 fill-column)
The value will be a number two more than what you get by evaluating
fill-column alone. For me, this is 74, because my value of
fill-column is 72.
As we have just seen, an argument can be a symbol that returns a value
when evaluated. In addition, an argument can be a list that returns a
value when it is evaluated. For example, in the following expression,
the arguments to the function
concat are the strings
"The " and
" red foxes." and the list
(number-to-string (+ 2 fill-column)).
(concat "The " (number-to-string (+ 2 fill-column)) " red foxes.")
If you evaluate this expression—and if, as with my Emacs,
fill-column evaluates to 72—
"The 74 red foxes." will
appear in the echo area. (Note that you must put spaces after the
word ‘The’ and before the word ‘red’ so they will appear in
the final string. The function
number-to-string converts the
integer that the addition function returns to a string.
number-to-string is also known as