Java: Finding the shortest word in a string and printing it out

I'm a novice with Java. I took a class in C, so I'm trying to get myself out of that mode of thinking. The program I'm writing has a section in which the user enters an integer, n, and then n number of words afterwards. This section then searches through those words and finds the shortest one, then returns it to the user. For instance, an input might be:



The code I have currently seems to return the wrong word. In this instance, it returns "PROGRAMMING", when it should return "IS". I thought maybe you all could point me in the right direction.

int numwords = scan.nextInt();
    String sentence = scan.nextLine();
    String shortestword = new String();
    String[] words = sentence.split(" ");
    for (int i = 0; i < numwords; i++){
        if (shortestword.length() < words[i].length()){
            shortestword = words[i];


To give you an idea of what I was trying to do, I was attempting to enter the words into a string, "sentence," then break that string up into individual words in an array, "words[]," then run a for loop to compare the strings to each other by comparing the lengths to the entries in the array. Thank you for your assistance!


You're almost there, but your comparison to detect the shortest word is reversed. It should be:

if (words[i].length() < shortestword.length()) {

That is, if your current word's length is less than the length of your previous shortest word, overwrite it.

Also, instead of starting with an empty String, start with the first word, i.e., words[0]. Otherwise, the empty string will always be shorter than any string in your array:

String[] words = sentence.split(" ");
String shortestword = words[0];
for (int i = 1; i < numwords; i++) { // start with 1, because you already have words[0]

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