Functions in JavaScript

6 exercises

About Functions

A function is a block of organized, reusable code that is used to perform some action. There are multiple ways to define functions in JavaScript. Here we will look at function declarations and function expressions. Other possibilities like arrow functions will be covered in other concepts.

Function Declaration

The standard way of defining a function in JavaScript is a function declaration, also called function definition or function statement.

It consists of the function keyword, the name of the function, and a comma-separated list of parameters enclosed in round brackets. This is followed by the function body (collection of statements that defines what a function does) wrapped in curly brackets.

function someName(param1, param2, param3) {
  // ...

Using a Function

In JavaScript, a function is invoked (called) by stating the function name followed by round brackets that contain the arguments.

someName(arg1, arg2, arg3);

Just stating the function name does not call the function in JavaScript.

function sayHello() {
  console.log('Hello, World!');

// => [Function: sayHello]
// The text representations varies between environments.

// => 'Hello, World!'


When working with parameters inside the function body, be aware of possible side effects to the original value that was passed to the function. In JavaScript, an argument is a copy of a reference to the original value. What this means in practice depends on the data type of the argument.

  • Values of primitive data types are immutable. All "modifications" always create a new primitive value. Because of that, the original value is never affected by what happens to the argument in the function body.

    const num = 0;
    function increase(number) {
      number = number + 1;
    // => 0
  • It is different for values like objects, arrays, functions. Since the reference is copied, a reassignment will not affect the original value. However, since you are dealing with a shallow copy, modifying the argument in the function body will also change the original value that was passed in.

    const nums = [0, 1, 2, 3, 4];
    function pushFive(arr) {
    // => [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

By default, all parameters defined in the function declaration are optional in JavaScript. If a function is provided with fewer arguments than there are parameters, the missing arguments will be undefined inside the function body, see Null and Undefined. In many cases, it makes more sense to initialize a parameter with a default value if no value or undefined property is passed. This can be done by specifying default parameters directly in the function definition.

function someName(param1 = defaultValue1, param2 = defaultValue2) {
  // ...

A function can be invoked (called) with more arguments than there were parameters in the function definition. All arguments, including those excess arguments, can be found in the arguments "array".

It is also possible to define functions that accept an arbitrary number of arguments (variadic functions), see rest parameters in Rest and Spread Operators for more details.

Return Statement

A return statement ends the function execution and specifies a value to be returned to the function caller. A function can have multiple return statements.

function checkNumber(num) {
  if (num === 0) {
    return 'You passed 0, please provide another number.';

  return 'Thanks for passing such a nice number.';

The result of a function that returns no value or does not have a return statement is undefined. There are no implicit returns in JavaScript.

function nakedReturn(a) {
  a * 2;

// => undefined

function noReturn(a) {
  a * 2;

// => undefined

In JavaScript, you can only return exactly one value. If you want to pass more information, you need to combine it into one entity first, usually into an object, or an array.

function divide(a, b) {
  return {
    quotient: Math.floor(a / b),
    remainder: a % b,

Function Expression

A function declaration is a standalone statement. But sometimes it is helpful to define a function as part of another expression, e.g., in an assignment, as a function parameter (callback) or as value in an object. This can be done with a function expression. It has the same syntax as a function declaration, only that the function name can be omitted to create an anonymous function.

const someFunction = function (param) {
  // ...

someOtherFunction(function (param) {
  // ...

const obj = {
  someFunction: function (param) {
    // ...


A function introduces a new execution context in JavaScript. Variables defined inside a function are not accessible outside of that function. But variables defined in the parent scope (the scope where the function was defined itself) are accessible inside the function. The MDN documentation on scope shows examples of this behavior.

Have a look at closures to learn more about variable scope in JavaScript.

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