How Can We Help?
< All Topics


Introduction to JavaScript functions

When developing an application, you often need to perform the same action in many places. For example, you may want to show a message whenever an error occurs.

To avoid repeating the same code all over places, you can use a function to wrap that code and reuse it.

JavaScript provides many built-in functions such as parseInt() and parseFloat(). In this tutorial, you will learn how to develop custom functions.

Declare a function

To declare a function, you use the function keyword, followed by the function name, a list of parameters, and the function body as follows:

function functionName(parameters) {
// function body// ...

The function name must be a valid JavaScript identifier. By convention, the function names are in camelCase and start with verbs like getData()fetchContents(), and isValid().

A function can accept zero, one, or multiple parameters. In the case of multiple parameters, you need to use a comma to separate two parameters.

The following declares a function say() that accepts no parameter:

function say() {

The following declares a function named square() that accepts one parameter:

function square(a) {

And the following declares a function named add() that accepts two parameters:

function add(a, b) {

Inside the function body, you can write the code to implement an action. For example, the following say() function simply shows a message to the console:

function say(message) {

In the body of the say() function, we call the console.log() function to output a message to the console.

Calling a function

To use a function, you need to call it. Calling a function is also known as invoking a function. To call a function, you use its name followed by arguments enclosing in parentheses like this:


When calling a function, JavaScript executes the code inside the function body. For example, the following shows how to call the say() function:


In this example, we call the say() function and pass a literal string 'Hello' into it.

Parameters vs. Arguments

The terms parameters and arguments are often used interchangeably. However, they are essentially different.

When declaring a function, you specify the parameters. However, when calling a function, you pass the arguments that are corresponding to the parameters.

For example, in the say() function, the message is the parameter and the 'Hello' string is an argument that corresponds to the message parameter.

Returning a value

Every function in JavaScript implicitly returns undefined unless you explicitly specify a return value. For example:

function say(message) {

let result = say('Hello');
console.log('Result:', result);


Result: undefined

To specify a return value for a function, you use the return statement followed by an expression or a value, like this:

return expression;

For example, the following add() function returns the sum of the two arguments:

function add(a, b) {
    return a + b;

The following shows how to call the add() function:

let sum = add(10, 20);
console.log('Sum:', sum);


Sum: 30

The following example uses multiple return statements in a function to return different values based on conditions:

function compare(a, b) {
    if (a > b) {
        return -1;
    } else if (a < b) {
        return 1;
    return 0;

The compare() function compares two values. It returns:

  • 1 if the first argument is greater than the second one.
  • 1 if the first argument is less than the second one.
  • 0 if the first argument equals the second one.

The function immediately stops executing immediately when it reaches the return statement. Therefore, you can use the return statement without a value to exit the function prematurely, like this:

function say(message) {
// show nothing if the message is empty
if (! message ) {

In this example, if the message is blank (or undefined), the say() function will show nothing.

The function can return a single value. If you want to return multiple values from a function, you need to pack these values in an array or an object.

The arguments object

Inside a function, you can access an object called arguments that represents the named arguments of the function.

The arguments object behaves like an array though it is not an instance of the Array type.

For example, you can use the square bracket [] to access the arguments: arguments[0] returns the first argument, arguments[1] returns the second one, and so on.

Also, you can use the length property of the arguments object to determine the number of arguments.

The following example implements a generic add() function that calculates the sum of any number of arguments.

function add() {
    let sum = 0;
    for (let i = 0; i < arguments.length; i++) {
        sum += arguments[i];
    return sum;

Hence, you can pass any number of arguments to the add() function, like this:

console.log(add(1, 2)); // 3

console.log(add(1, 2, 3, 4, 5)); // 15

Function hoisting

In JavaScript, you can use a function before declaring it. For example:

showMe(); // a hoisting example

function showMe(){
    console.log('an hoisting example');

This feature is called hoisting.

Function hoisting is a mechanism that the JavaScript engine physically moves function declarations to the top of the code before executing them.

The following shows the version of the code before the JavaScript engine executes it:

function showMe(){
    console.log('a hoisting example');

showMe();// a hoisting example


  • Use the function keyword to declare a function.
  • Use the functionName() to call a function.
  • All functions implicitly return undefined if they don’t explicitly return a value.
  • Use the return statement to return a value from a function explicitly.
  • The arguments variable is an array-like object inside a function, representing function arguments.
  • The function hoisting allows you to call a function before declaring it.

Table of Contents