JavaScript specials

Domains: Javascript

This chapter briefly recaps the features of JavaScript that we've learned by now, paying special attention to subtle moments.

Code structure

Statements are delimited with a semicolon:

alert('Hello'); alert('World');

Usually, a line-break is also treated as a delimiter, so that would also work:


That's called "automatic semicolon insertion". Sometimes it doesn't work, for instance:

alert("There will be an error after this message")
[1, 2].forEach(alert)

Most codestyle guides agree that we should put a semicolon after each statement.

Semicolons are not required after code blocks {...} and syntax constructs with them like loops:

function f() {
  // no semicolon needed after function declaration

for(;;) {
  // no semicolon needed after the loop

...But even if we can put an "extra" semicolon somewhere, that's not an error. It will be ignored.

More in: info:structure.

Strict mode

To fully enable all features of modern JavaScript, we should start scripts with "use strict".

'use strict';

The directive must be at the top of a script or at the beginning of a function.

Without "use strict", everything still works, but some features behave in the old-fashion, "compatible" way. We'd generally prefer the modern behavior.

Some modern features of the language (like classes that we'll study in the future) enable strict mode implicitly.

More in: info:strict-mode.


Can be declared using:

  • let
  • const (constant, can't be changed)
  • var (old-style, will see later)

A variable name can include:

  • Letters and digits, but the first character may not be a digit.
  • Characters $ and _ are normal, on par with letters.
  • Non-Latin alphabets and hieroglyphs are also allowed, but commonly not used.

Variables are dynamically typed. They can store any value:

let x = 5;
x = "John";

There are 7 data types:

  • number for both floating-point and integer numbers,
  • string for strings,
  • boolean for logical values: true/false,
  • null -- a type with a single value null, meaning "empty" or "does not exist",
  • undefined -- a type with a single value undefined, meaning "not assigned",
  • object and symbol -- for complex data structures and unique identifiers, we haven't learnt them yet.

The typeof operator returns the type for a value, with two exceptions:

typeof null == "object" // error in the language
typeof function(){} == "function" // functions are treated specially

More in: info:variables and info:types.


We're using a browser as a working environment, so basic UI functions will be:

prompt(question[, default]) : Ask a question, and return either what the visitor entered or null if they pressed "cancel".

confirm(question) : Ask a question and suggest to choose between Ok and Cancel. The choice is returned as true/false.

alert(message) : Output a message.

All these functions are modal, they pause the code execution and prevent the visitor from interacting with the page until they answer.

For instance:

let userName = prompt("Your name?", "Alice");
let isTeaWanted = confirm("Do you want some tea?");

alert( "Visitor: " + userName ); // Alice
alert( "Tea wanted: " + isTeaWanted ); // true

More in: info:alert-prompt-confirm.


JavaScript supports the following operators:

Arithmetical : Regular: * + - /, also % for the remainder and ** for power of a number.

The binary plus + concatenates strings. And if any of the operands is a string, the other one is converted to string too:

alert( '1' + 2 ); // '12', string
alert( 1 + '2' ); // '12', string

Assignments : There is a simple assignment: a = b and combined ones like a *= 2.

Bitwise : Bitwise operators work with integers on bit-level: see the docs when they are needed.

Ternary : The only operator with three parameters: cond ? resultA : resultB. If cond is truthy, returns resultA, otherwise resultB.

Logical operators : Logical AND && and OR || perform short-circuit evaluation and then return the value where it stopped.

Comparisons : Equality check == for values of different types converts them to a number (except null and undefined that equal each other and nothing else), so these are equal:

alert( 0 == false ); // true
alert( 0 == '' ); // true

Other comparisons convert to a number as well.

The strict equality operator === doesn't do the conversion: different types always mean different values for it, so:

Values `null` and `undefined` are special: they equal == each other and don't equal anything else.

Greater/less comparisons compare strings character-by-character, other types are converted to a number.

Logical operators : There are few others, like a comma operator.

More in: info:operators, info:comparison, info:logical-operators.


  • We covered 3 types of loops:

    		// 1
    while (condition) {
    // 2
    do {
    } while (condition);
    // 3
    for(let i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
  • The variable declared in for(let...) loop is visible only inside the loop. But we can also omit let and reuse an existing variable.

  • Directives break/continue allow to exit the whole loop/current iteration. Use labels to break nested loops.

Details in: info:while-for.

Later we'll study more types of loops to deal with objects.

The "switch" construct

The "switch" construct can replace multiple if checks. It uses === (strict equality) for comparisons.

For instance:

let age = prompt('Your age?', 18);

switch (age) {
  case 18:
    alert("Won't work"); // the result of prompt is a string, not a number

  case "18":
    alert("This works!");

    alert("Any value not equal to one above");

Details in: info:switch.


We covered three ways to create a function in JavaScript:

  1. Function Declaration: the function in the main code flow

    		function sum(a, b) {
      let result = a + b;
      return result;
  2. Function Expression: the function in the context of an expression

    		let sum = function(a, b) {
      let result = a + b;
      return result;

    Function expressions can have a name, like sum = function name(a, b), but that name is only visible inside that function.

  3. Arrow functions:

    		// expression at the right side
    let sum = (a, b) => a + b;
    // or multi-line syntax with { ... }, need return here:
    let sum = (a, b) => {
      // ...
      return a + b;
    // without arguments
    let sayHi = () => alert("Hello");
    // with a single argument
    let double = n => n * 2;
  • Functions may have local variables: those declared inside its body. Such variables are only visible inside the function.
  • Parameters can have default values: function sum(a = 1, b = 2) {...}.
  • Functions always return something. If there's no return statement, then the result is undefined.
Function Declaration Function Expression
visible in the whole code block created when the execution reaches it
- can have a name, visible only inside the function

More: see info:function-basics, info:function-expressions-arrows.

More to come

That was a brief list of JavaScript features. As of now we've studied only basics. Further in the tutorial you'll find more specials and advanced features of JavaScript.

Similar pages

Page structure



Operators in JS

Variables in JS








Logical operators

Switch statement

Function Expression


Function Declaration






&& (AND)


Binary +

Assignment =





Code structure

JS Data Types



Ternary operator '?'

|| (OR)

Arrow functions