as expressions are phrases
are sentences or commands
terminated with semicolons
which are executed to make something happen

JavaScript programs are
a sequence of statements
which an interpreter executes
one after another in the same order they were written

another way to make things happen
is to alter the default order of execution

has a number of statements or control structures
that help at this

are statements like if & switch that make the interpreter execute or skip
other statements depending on the value of an expression

are statements like while & for that execute other statements repetitively

are statements like break / return / throw that cause the interpreter to
jump to another part of the program


Summary table

Statement Syntax Purpose
break break [label]; Exit from the innermost loop or switch or from named enclosing statement
case case expression: Label a statement within a switch
continue continue [label]; Begin next iteration of the innermost loop or the named loop
debugger debugger; Debugger breakpoint
default default: Label the default statement within a switch
do/while do statement while (expression); An alternative to the while loop
empty ; Do nothing
for for (init; test; incr) statement An easy-to-use loop
for/in for (var in object) statement Enumerate the properties of object
function function fnName([param[,...]]) { body } Declare a named function
if/else if (expr) statement1 [else statement2] Execute statement1 or statement2
label label: statement Give statement the name label
return return [expression]; Return a value from a function
switch switch (expression) { statements } Multiway branch to case or default: labels
throw throw expression; Throw an exception

the next table summarizes all JavaScript statements

listing their syntax & purpose

Statement Syntax Purpose
try try { statements }
[catch { handler statements }]
[finally { cleanup statements }]
Handle exceptions
use strict "use strict"; Apply strict mode restrictions to script or function
var var name [ = expr] [ ,... ]; Declare and initialize one or more variables
while while (expression) statement A basic loop construct
with with (object) statement Extend the scope chain (forbidden in strict mode)


the simplest JavaScript statements are

expressions & that have side effects
assignment / increment & decrement / delete

function calls



=  /  +=  /  -=  /  *=  /  /=  /  %=  /  <<=  /  >>=  /  >>>=  /  &=  /  |=  /  ^=

title = language + '- The Basics';
count += 15;

increment & decrement
++  /  --


they have the side effect of changing a variable value
as if an assignment has been performed


delete obj.prop;

has the side effect of deleting an object property

functions calls


a function call can also be a part of a larger expression
or an assignment statement

are another major category of expression statements

var confirmed = confirm(message);

if (confirmed) {
  // do something if user has clicked on OK alert button
} else {
  // do something else


a block statement combines multiple statements
into a single compound statement
which is just a sequence of statements enclosed in curly braces

  title = 'JavaScript - The Basics';
  subtitle = 'Statements';
  console.log(title + ' ' + subtitle);

statement block

as it can be seen

the block statement does not end with a semicolon
but statements within the block end in semicolons

the lines inside the block are indented
which is optional but it makes code easier to read

a compound block allows the use of multiple statements
where JavaScript syntax expects a single statement

the empty statement is the opposite of the statement block
allows to include no statement where one is expected

empty statement


interpreter takes no action when it executes an empty statement
which is useful in creating a loop with an empty body

var i, arr = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
for (i = 0; i < arr.length; arr[i++] = i * 0.5) ;

console.log(arr);    //=> [0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5]


var & function
are declaration statements
they define identifiers that can be used
elsewhere in a JavaScript program 
assign values to those identifiers


var statement declares a variable or variables

var name_1 [ = value_1] [ ,..., name_n [= value_n]]

var keyword is followed by a comma-separated
list of variables to be declared

each variable in the list may optionally have
an initializer expression that specifies its initial value

var i;             // a simple variable
var i = 0;         // a simple initialized variable
var i, j;          // a list of variables
var i = 1, j = 15; // a list of initialized variables
var i = 1,         // a list of initialized variables
    j = 15;        // declared on separate lines


function keyword is used to define functions

function fnName([arg1 [, arg2 [..., argN]]]) {

fnName is an identifier
which gives a name to the function that has been declared
arg1... argN are arguments passed to the function
statements are any number of statements contained
within curly braces

function sum(x, y) {
  return x + y;

function declaration statements differ from function definition expressions in that they include a function name

both create a new function object
the function declaration statement also declares the function name as a variable & assigns the function object to it


conditional statements
are used to execute or skip other statements
depending on the value of a specified expression

they are the decision points of any code

is the fundamental control statement that allows JavaScript to make
decisions or to execute statements conditionally

it has two forms

if (expression)


expression is evaluated & if the value is truthy
statement is executed

otherwise if is falsy then it is not executed

var truthy = 1,
    falsy = 0;

if (truthy)
  console.log(truthy + ' is `truthy` value');

if (falsy)
  console.log('This will not be printed, guess why?');

the second form

if (expression)

which introduces an else clause
that is executed when expression is false

var falsy = 0;

if (falsy)
  console.log('This will not be printed, guess why?');
  console.log('Because ' + falsy + ' is a `falsy value`');

the if syntax is very clear & simple
however it is important to know that
parentheses around the expression are required

JavaScript requires a single statement
after the if keyword & the expression


a statement block can be used
to combine multiple statements into a single one

var falsy = 0;

if (falsy) {
  console.log('This will not be printed, guess why?');
} else {
  console.log('Because ' + falsy + ' is a `falsy value`');

it is also recommended to always use a
statement block to ensure that the interpreter
always follows the correct path

var x = 1, y = 1, z = 2 ;

if (x === y)
  if (x === z)
    console.log('x is equal to z'); 
  console.log('x is not equal to y');

//=> "x is not equal to y"
var x = 1, y = 1, z = 2 ;

if (x === y) {
  if (y === z) {                      // y is not equal to z
    console.log('y is equal to z');   // that's why this is not printed
} else {                              // x is equal to y
  console.log('x is not equal to y'); // that's why this is not printed

if / else statement evaluates an expression
and then executes one of two pieces of code


when one of many pieces of code have to be executed
else if statement becomes really handy

else if

var i = 0;

if (i === 0) {
  console.log('`i` is zero');
} else if (i === 1) {
  console.log('`i` is one');
} else if (i === 2) {
  console.log('`i` is two');
} else {
  console.log('No one knows the value of `i`');

if statement changes the flow of the program
by making the interpreter to follow a certain path

else if statement helped by adding multiple clauses to if
to perform a multiway branch


even if it's handy it is not always the best solution
when all the branches depend on the value of the same expression


this is why switch statement is used to handle
such situtations

it's syntax looks as follows

switch (expression) {
  case valueOne:
  case valueTwo:

  case valueN: 
var i = 0;

switch (i) {
  case 0:
    console.log('`i` is zero');
  case 1:
    console.log('`i` is one');
  case 2: 
    console.log('`i` is two');
    console.log('No one knows the value of `i`');

rewriting the if / else if / else example with switch

switch works by simply computing the value of expression i
and then looks for a case label whose expression evaluates to the same value
if it finds one it start executing the the block of code
if it doesn't it looks for the default label
if there's no default it skips the entire block of code


looping statements
are used to execute other statements repetitively


as conditional statements build a path through a source code

looping statements
bend that path upon itself to repeat portions of code

JavaScript has four looping statements
while  /  do while  /  for  /  for in

while statement is JavaScript’s basic loop
which has the following syntax

while (expression)


expression is evaluated
if the value is falsy then the interpreter skips over the statement
if the expression is truthy it executes the statement & repeats
by jumping back to the top of the loop
where it starts again by re-evaluating the expression

var count = 0;
while (count <= 15) {

//=> it will print numbers from 0 to 15 then it stops

do/while loop statement is like while
except that the expression is tested at the bottom
meaning that the body of the loop is executed at least once

while (expression);


var test = false;
do {
} while (test);

//=> it will print `false` and then it stops

there are also syntactic differences between do/while & while
do/while requires both do & while keywords
do/while always ends with a semicolon

for statement is a looping construct that is often
more convenient than the while statement
because it encodes the loop counter variable

initializationtest & increment
as expressions that are a part of the loop syntax

for (initialize; test; increment)


the three expressions are separated by semicolons
are responsible for
initializing / testing & incrementing
the loop variable

initialize expression is evaluated once before the loop begins
test expression is evaluated before each iteration
and controls whether the body of the loop is executed
then the increment expression is evaluated

for (var count = 0; count <= 15; count++)

//=> it will print numbers from 0 to 15 then it stops

for/in statement uses the for keyword
is different than the regular for loop

for (variable in object)


variable is an identifier or a var statement that declares a variable
object is an expression that evaluates to an object

var obj = { title: 'JavaScript - The Basics', chapter: 'Statements'};

for (var prop in obj) {
  console.log(prop + ': ' + obj[prop]);

// It prints:
//   title: JavaScript - The Basics
//   chapter: Statements

the JavaScript interpreter first evaluates the object expression

if it evaluates to null or undefined - the interpreter skips the loop
if it evaluates to a primitive value - that value is converted to its wrapper object
otherwise - the expression is already an object


the interpreter now executes the body of the loop
once for each enumerable property of the object


before each iteration it evaluates the variable expression

and assigns the name of the property to it


jump statements
are statements that make the JavaScript interpreter
to jump to a new location in the source code

in JavaScript any statement can be labeled
by preceding it with an identifier and a colon
which gives a name to that statement
name that can be used to refer to it elsewhere in the program

identifier: statement

labeled statements

labeled statements can only be used with break and continue statements
inside a loop to exit or to jump to the top of that loop

var i, j;

console.log('| i | j |');

outer: for (i = 0; i <= 2; i++) { 
  inner: for (j = 0; j <= 2; j++) {
    if (i === 1 && j === 1) {
      continue outer;
    console.log('| ' + i + ' | ' + j + ' |');

// Prints
// | i | j |
// | 0 | 0 |
// | 0 | 1 |
// | 0 | 2 |
// | 1 | 0 |
// | 2 | 0 |
// | 2 | 1 |
// | 2 | 2 |

identifier used to label a statement
can be any legal JavaScript identifier which is not a reserved word

break statement causes the innermost
enclosing loop or switch statement to exit immediately
it has a simple syntax



it is allowed to use a label statement after the break keyword
which causes a jump to the end of the enclosing statement that has the specified label

break labelname;
for (var i = 0; i < 15; i++) {
  if (i === 7) { break; }

// Prints numbers from 0 to 6 and then exits the loop

continue statement is similar to break
but instead of exiting the loop
it restarts the loop at the next iteration



as for the break statement it can be used with a label statement

continue labelname;
for (var i = 0; i < 15; i++) {
  if (i === 7) { continue; }

// Prints numbers from 0 to 14 excluding 7

when continue statement is executed
the current iteration of the enclosing loop is terminated
and the next iteration begins
that means different things for different types of loops

the expression is tested again and if it’s true the loop body is executed starting from the top
execution skips to the bottom where the loop condition is tested before restarting the loop
the increment expression is evaluated & the test expression is tested again
to determine if another iteration should be done
the loop starts over with the next property name being assigned to the specified variable

return statement ends a function execution
and specifies the value to be returned to the function caller

return expression;


function sum(x, y) {
  return x + y;

it may appear only within the body of a function

a function with no return statement
executes all statements within its body and then returns to its caller
in this case the value of the invocation expression will be undefined

throw statement throws a user defined exception
where an exception means that some sort of exceptional
condition or error has occurred


in JavaScript exceptions are thrown whenever
a runtime error occurs & whenever the program explicitly throws one
exceptions are caught with the try/catch/finally statement


throw statement has the following syntax

throw expression;

expression value can have any type
it might be a number that represents an error code
or a string representing an error message

throw 404;                                         //=> 404
throw 'This is cool!';                             //=> "This is cool!"
throw new Error('This is a cool error message!');  //=> Error: This is a cool error message!

as it can be seen above the Error class can be used as well
the JavaScript interpreter uses this class
and its subclasses internally to throw errors

when an exception is thrown JavaScript interpreter
immediately stops normal program execution
and jumps to the nearest exception handler

if the block of code in which the exception was thrown doesn't have an exception handler
the interpreter checks the next highest enclosing block of code until a handler is found

var bool = true, arr = [1, 2, 3, {}], i, elem, type;

if (bool) {
  if (arr.length) {
    for (i = 0; i < arr.length; i++) {
      elem = arr[i];
      type = typeof elem;
      if (type !== 'number') { throw new Error(type + ' is not a number'); }
      console.log(elem + ' is a number')
  try {
    // nothing here we just catch the above throw statement
  } catch (err) {

exceptions propagate up through the lexical structure
of JavaScript methods & up the call stack
if no exception handler is ever found
the exception is treated as an error and is reported to the user

try/catch/finally statement is JavaScript’s exception handling mechanism
it provides a way to handle errors that may occur
in a given block of code while still running code


try { 

[catch (exception_var) { 

[finally { 

defines the block of code whose exceptions are to be handled
clause is a block of statements that are invoked
when an exception occurs anywhere within the try block
block contains cleanup code that is guaranteed to be executed
regardless of what happens in the try block

catch and finally are optional
try must be accompanied by at least one of these blocks


with statement is used to temporarily extend the scope chain

it's syntax looks as follows


with (object)

in other words with statement was intended to provide a shorthand
when accessing the properties of an object
by adding object to the front of the scope chain

keep in mind that it 
works just for reading properties
not for creating new ones

a common use for the with statement
is to make it easier to work with deeply nested object hierarchies

var data = {
  course: {
    title: 'JavaScript - The Basics',
    chapters: [{
      table_of_contents: {
        introduction: {
          title: 'Introduction',
          pages: {
            count: 10,
            start_page: 1

with (data.course.chapters[0].table_of_contents) {

//=> Introduction 10 1 

debugger statement suspends execution
and performs debugging actions if a debugger program is available and running
otherwise it has no effect

in the real word it acts like a breakpoint
that stops the execution of a JavaScript program


it can be used to
inspect variables' values
examine the call stack
single-step code

its syntax is simple



"use strict" is more of a directive than a statement
that was introduced in ECMAScript5 specification
its role is to indicate that code that follows is strict code

"use strict"

"use strict";
'use strict';

strict code is executed in strict mode
which is a subset of the language that fixes a few important language deficiencies
and provides stronger error checking and increased security

differences between
strict mode and non-strict mode
are the following

strict mode non-strict mode
with statement is not allowed -
all variables must be declared implicitly declared global variable added as a new property to the global object
functions invoked as functions (rather than as methods) have a this value of undefined functions invoked as functions are always passed the global object as their this value
when a function is invoked with call() or apply(), the this value is exactly the value passed as the first argument to call() or apply() null and undefined values are replaced with the global object and non-object values are converted to objects
assignments to nonwritable properties and attempts to create new properties on nonextensible objects throw a TypeError these attempts fail silently
code passed to eval() cannot declare variables or define functions in the caller’s scope as it can in non-strict mode. Instead, variable and function definitions live in a new scope created for the eval(). This scope is discarded when the eval() returns -


strict mode non-strict mode
the arguments object in a function holds a static copy of the values passed to the function the arguments object has "magical" behavior in which elements of the array and named function parameters both refer to the same value
a SyntaxError is thrown if the delete operator is followed by an unqualified identifier such as a variable, function, or function parameter such a delete expression does nothing and evaluates to false
an attempt to delete a nonconfigurable property throws a TypeError the attempt fails and the delete expression evaluates to false
it is a syntax error for an object literal to define two or more properties by the same name no error occurs
it is a syntax error for a function declaration to have two or more parameters with the same name no error occurs
octal integer literals (beginning with a 0 that is not followed by an x) are not allowed some implementations allow octal literals
the identifiers eval and arguments are treated like keywords and it is not allowed to change their value -
the ability to examine the call stack is restricted -

JavaScript - The Basics - Statements

By Raul Matei

JavaScript - The Basics - Statements

  • 1,482