In Swift, there are two kinds of types: named types and compound types. A named type is a type that can be given a particular name when it’s defined. Named types include classes, structures, enumerations, and protocols. For example, instances of a user-defined class named MyClass have the type MyClass. In addition to user-defined named types, the Swift standard library defines many commonly used named types, including those that represent arrays, dictionaries, and optional values.

Data types that are normally considered basic or primitive in other languages — such as types that represent numbers, characters, and strings—are actually named types, defined and implemented in the Swift standard library using structures. Because they’re named types, you can extend their behavior to suit the needs of your program, using an extension declaration, discussed in Extensions and Extension Declaration.

A compound type is a type without a name, defined in the Swift language itself. There are two compound types: function types and tuple types. A compound type may contain named types and other compound types. For instance, the tuple type (Int, (Int, Int)) contains two elements: The first is the named type Int, and the second is another compound type (Int, Int).

You can put parentheses around a named type or a compound type. However, adding parentheses around a type doesn’t have any effect. For example, (Int) is equivalent to Int.

This chapter discusses the types defined in the Swift language itself and describes the type inference behavior of Swift.


type → array-type

type → dictionary-type

type → function-type

type → type-identifier

type → tuple-type

type → optional-type

type → implicitly-unwrapped-optional-type

type → protocol-composition-type

type → metatype-type

type → Any

type → Self

type → ( type )

Type Annotation

A type annotation explicitly specifies the type of a variable or expression. Type annotations begin with a colon (:) and end with a type, as the following examples show:

let someTuple: (Double, Double) = (3.14159, 2.71828)
func someFunction(a: Int) { /* ... */ }

In the first example, the expression someTuple is specified to have the tuple type (Double, Double). In the second example, the parameter a to the function someFunction is specified to have the type Int.

Type annotations can contain an optional list of type attributes before the type.


type-annotation → : attributes opt inoutopt type

Type Identifier

A type identifier refers to either a named type or a type alias of a named or compound type.

Most of the time, a type identifier directly refers to a named type with the same name as the identifier. For example, Int is a type identifier that directly refers to the named type Int, and the type identifier Dictionary<String, Int> directly refers to the named type Dictionary<String, Int>.

There are two cases in which a type identifier doesn’t refer to a type with the same name. In the first case, a type identifier refers to a type alias of a named or compound type. For instance, in the example below, the use of Point in the type annotation refers to the tuple type (Int, Int).

typealias Point = (Int, Int)
let origin: Point = (0, 0)

In the second case, a type identifier uses dot (.) syntax to refer to named types declared in other modules or nested within other types. For example, the type identifier in the following code references the named type MyType that is declared in the ExampleModule module.

var someValue: ExampleModule.MyType


type-identifier → type-name generic-argument-clause opt | type-name generic-argument-clause opt . type-identifier

type-name → identifier

Tuple Type

A tuple type is a comma-separated list of types, enclosed in parentheses.

You can use a tuple type as the return type of a function to enable the function to return a single tuple containing multiple values. You can also name the elements of a tuple type and use those names to refer to the values of the individual elements. An element name consists of an identifier followed immediately by a colon (:). For an example that demonstrates both of these features, see Functions with Multiple Return Values.

When an element of a tuple type has a name, that name is part of the type.

var someTuple = (top: 10, bottom: 12) // someTuple is of type (top: Int, bottom: Int)
someTuple = (top: 4, bottom: 42) // OK: names match
someTuple = (9, 99) // OK: names are inferred
someTuple = (left: 5, right: 5) // Error: names don't match

All tuple types contain two or more types, except for Void which is a type alias for the empty tuple type, ().


tuple-type → ( ) | ( tuple-type-element , tuple-type-element-list )

tuple-type-element-list → tuple-type-element | tuple-type-element , tuple-type-element-list

tuple-type-element → element-name type-annotation | type

element-name → identifier

Function Type

A function type represents the type of a function, method, or closure and consists of a parameter and return type separated by an arrow (->):

(parameter type) -> return type

The parameter type is comma-separated list of types. Because the return type can be a tuple type, function types support functions and methods that return multiple values.

A parameter of the function type () -> T (where T is any type) can apply the autoclosure attribute to implicitly create a closure at its call sites. This provides a syntactically convenient way to defer the evaluation of an expression without needing to write an explicit closure when you call the function. For an example of an autoclosure function type parameter, see Autoclosures.

A function type can have a variadic parameter in its parameter type. Syntactically, a variadic parameter consists of a base type name followed immediately by three dots (...), as in Int.... A variadic parameter is treated as an array that contains elements of the base type name. For instance, the variadic parameter Int... is treated as [Int]. For an example that uses a variadic parameter, see Variadic Parameters.

To specify an in-out parameter, prefix the parameter type with the inout keyword. You can’t mark a variadic parameter or a return type with the inout keyword. In-out parameters are discussed in In-Out Parameters.



If a function type has only one parameter and that parameter’s type is a tuple type, then the tuple type must be parenthesized when writing the function’s type. For example, ((Int, Int)) -> Void is the type of a function that takes a single parameter of the tuple type (Int, Int) and doesn’t return any value. In contrast, without parentheses, (Int, Int) -> Void is the type of a function that takes two Int parameters and doesn’t return any value. Likewise, because Void is a type alias for (), the function type (Void) -> Void is the same as (()) -> ()—a function that takes a single argument that is an empty tuple. These types are not the same as () -> ()—a function that takes no arguments.

Argument names in functions and methods are not part of the corresponding function type. For example:

func someFunction(left: Int, right: Int) {}
func anotherFunction(left: Int, right: Int) {}
func functionWithDifferentLabels(top: Int, bottom: Int) {}

var f = someFunction // The type of f is (Int, Int) -> Void, not (left: Int, right: Int) -> Void.
f = anotherFunction // OK
f = functionWithDifferentLabels // OK

func functionWithDifferentArgumentTypes(left: Int, right: String) {}
f = functionWithDifferentArgumentTypes // Error

func functionWithDifferentNumberOfArguments(left: Int, right: Int, top: Int) {}
f = functionWithDifferentNumberOfArguments // Error
Because argument labels are not part of a function’s type, you omit them when writing a function type.

var operation: (lhs: Int, rhs: Int) -> Int // Error
var operation: (_ lhs: Int, _ rhs: Int) -> Int // OK
var operation: (Int, Int) -> Int // OK
If a function type includes more than a single arrow (->), the function types are grouped from right to left. For example, the function type (Int) -> (Int) -> Int is understood as (Int) -> ((Int) -> Int)—that is, a function that takes an Int and returns another function that takes and returns an Int.

Function types that can throw an error must be marked with the throws keyword, and function types that can rethrow an error must be marked with the rethrows keyword. The throws keyword is part of a function’s type, and nonthrowing functions are subtypes of throwing functions. As a result, you can use a nonthrowing function in the same places as a throwing one. Throwing and rethrowing functions are described in Throwing Functions and Methods and Rethrowing Functions and Methods.

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