What is functions in Javascript?

Yashu Mittal


Function Syntax

There are multiple ways to define a function in JavaScript. Two we’ll explore in this article are function declarations, and function expressions A Function Declaration defines a named function. Think of a declaring a function as equal to declaring a variable. Instead of using var though, you use the function keyword, followed by the name of the function:

function name(parameters){

Function Expressions can be named functions or anonymous. An anonymous function is a function that has no name. In the example below, we are setting the return value of an anonymous function to the name variable.

let name = function(parameters){

Function Parameters vs. Arguments

When working with functions, you may have heard the terms parameters and arguments used interchangeably.

When defining a function, we can pass in up to 255 parameters. Parameters input and separated by commas in the (). Here’s an example with three parameters:

function threeParams(param1, param2, param3){

Arguments, on the other hand, are the values the function receives from each parameter when the function is invoked.

It’s important to understand this subtle difference in terminology.

**Note:** If you’re using Google Chrome, open up your developer console so you can explore the below examples along with me. **[WINDOWS]: Ctrl + Shift + J [MAC]: Cmd + Opt + J**

Running a Function

Functions execute when the function is called. This process is known as invocation. You can invoke a function by referencing the function name, followed by ().

Lets look at the example below. We have a function named logIt. This function requires one parameter, name. The function will then log that name back to the console.

function logIt(name){

To invoke our function, we call it, while passing in the singular parameter. Here I am calling this function with the name Dave:


A function with no parameters is simply invoked with an empty set of parenthesis:

function logIt2(){
  console.log('Log it 2');

Returning from a function

Every function in JavaScript returns undefined unless otherwise specified. We can test this by creating and invoking an empty function:

function test(){};
// undefined

As expected, we get undefined returned.

We can use the return keyword to specify what we want a function to return. Look at the example below:

function test(){
  return true;
// true

In this example we tell the function to return true. when we invoke the function, we get true displayed in the console.

Another important rule of the return statement is that it stops a functions execution immediately.

Consider this example where we have two return statements in our test function:

function test(){
  return true;
  return false;
// true

The first return statement immediately stops execution of our function and causes our function to return true. The code on line three: return false; is never executed.

Something else to understand about the return statement is that it’s value is returned to the caller of the function. Let’s look at an example:

let double = function(num) {
   return num * 2;

Above we have a function expression. The variable double is being assigned to the returned value of this anonymous function. When we invoke the function we can see this assignment in action:

let test = double(3);
// 6

Awesome! The return variable not only returns values from a function, but it assigns them to whatever called the function!

Functions are Objects

In JavaScript, anything that is not a primitive type ( undefined, null, boolean, number, or string) is an object. Objects in JavaScript are extremely versatile. Because of this, we can even pass a function as a parameter into another function.

When a function accepts another function as a parameter, or returns a function, it is called a higher-order function. You’ve probably already used a bunch of higher order functions and don’t even know it: and Array.prototype.filter are higher order functions (Just to name a couple). More on this topic in a future article.

What to remember

That’s a lot of information. Here’s what you should remember:

Response to “What is functions in Javascript?”

Stay current

Sign up for our newsletter, and we'll send you news and tutorials on business, growth, web design, coding and more!