Greeting JavaScript: If, else, else if, switch statements and ternary operator in JavaScript7 min read

On a daily basis, we often do task based on the real condition. For example, if the weather is nice today, then we can go outside and do some cool stuff. If you’re feeling hungry, then you eat some snacks. If you feel tired, then you go to sleep and so on…JavaScript and other programming languages have been created for real-life human’s demands. It’s the reason why JavaScript also has some statements that perform the conditional actions and which are if, else, else if, switch and also the ternary operator.

If statements

In order to get a better visualization, let’s take a look about what it looks like and its syntax first:

if (condition is true) {
statement is executed

It looks amiable and brief, right? So the if‘s statements are used to make a decision in our code. The code in the curly bracket will be executed under certain conditions based on what’ve been defined in the parentheses beside the if keyword. As you can see above, the condition must be true to execute the statement, recall the Boolean values we learned last lesson. There are only two types of values either true or false. In the other hand, if the condition evaluates to false the if condition will never run (as you probably guess.)

Now, let’s make some particularly examples:

var x = 20;
if (x > 10){
console.log("This number is greater than 10!");
} // This number is greater than 10!

Look at the example above. First, we defined a variable named x and assign it to 20, afterward using if keyword to do a certain condition. If x is greater than 10, then log these words This number is greater than 10!

Else Statements

if statements will be executed only when a certain condition is true. Hmm…but what about false? Everything is not always true, right? With only if statement nothing will happen if the condition is false. However, we have an alternate way to execute our code when it false which is, else statement. If something cannot happen, so something else will happen instead:

if (condition) {
// if true, execute something
else {
// in case if is false, execute something

In case, a condition in if statement is false, the code in the curly bracket belong to if statement will not execute, the statement in curly bracket of else statement instead:

var x = 10;
if (x < 10){
console.log("X is less than 10");
console.log("X is not less than 10");
// X is not less than 10

With the else statement, not only you can execute something right away if if statement is not true, you can also create if and else statement inside the primary else statement. Also we can call if else statement can be nested in else statement:

var x = 10;
if(x > 10){
console.log(x + " is greater than 10!");
   if(x < 10){
     console.log(x + " is less than 10!");
     console.log(x + " is equal to 10!");
// Output: 10 is equal to 10!

Look at the example above, you can create a nested if else statement inside else statement with the same function as others if else. Notice that the principle of creating a nested if else statement is properly indented.

Else if Statement

Sometimes you have multiple conditions that need to be addressed, but it is possible to use some if else statements nested in else statement? Perhaps OK occasionally but it looks really messy, isn’t it? The nice alternative way that helps you do that is using if statement together with else if statement:

var num = 4;
if (num > 15) {
  console.log("Bigger than 15");
} else if (num < 5) {
  console.log("Smaller than 5");
} else {
  console.log("Between 5 and 15");
// Output: Smaller than 5

You can add one or more or many as you want else if statements if you want. Remember, with a space between else and if, the else if like ifstatement, always needs a certain condition in parentheses to execute the code inside the curly bracket.

The function is executed from top to the bottom, so be careful to choose what kind of condition you want to come first. For example:

var x = 5;
if (x < 7) {
    console.log("Less than seven");
  } else if (x < 6) {
    console.log("Less than six");
  } else {
    console.log("Less than five");
// Output: Less than seven

Switch Statement

If sometimes you have many options and want to execute something based on keyboard command. Not like if-else statement, which “selects the execution of the statements based upon the evaluation of the expression in if statements”. switch statement like I said above, will execute based on the keyboard command. A switch statement tests a value and can have many casestatements which define various possible values. Statements are executed from the first matched casevalue until a break is encountered.

Let’s see switch‘s syntax and how it looks like first:

switch (expression){
case constant1:
case constant2:
case constant3:

Primarily, the parentheses nearby switch keyword defines what kind of value you want to test in these cases below it. If the first case matched, the statement will execute the code inside this case and ignore everything underneath just only and until the break keyword is encountered. casevalues are tested with strict equality (===) (don’t need to worry about === now, I will write an article about it soon). If you forget to put break keyword or it’s omitted, the next statements will be executed. And sometimes no cases matched true, this is the time for default statement, it will be executed if none of the given statements is true.

Now let’s see switch statement in practice:

var dayInWeek = 8;
switch (dayInWeek){
case 2: 
    console.log("Today is Monday!");
case 3:
    console.log("Today is Tuesday!");
case 4:
    console.log("Today is Wednesday!");
case 5:
    console.log("Today is Thursday!");
case 6:
    console.log("Today is Friday!");
case 7:
    console.log("Today is Saturday!");
    console.log("Today is Sunday! Whoo-weee yo");
// Output: Today is Sunday! Whoo-wee yo

We have a variable called dayInWeek which is equal to 8 and passed it to the switch statement as an expression. Like if else statement, switch statement will look through the statements inside it and find the first matched. In this case, none of these cases matched, the default statement will return. And always remember using break after one statement and a colon after the case keyword to avoid something bad occur.

Ternary Operator

Ternary is frequently used as a short syntax of if statement. Because of it is short, so it’s confusing sometimes. The syntax would look like this:

condition ? ifTrueDoSomething : otherwiseDoOtherThing

Let’s break thing down and see what happens:

  • condition: The expression and its value is used as a condition
  • ifTrueDoSomething: if the expression in the condition is evaluated to a truthy value, then execute something
  • otherwiseDoOtherThing: if the condition is labeled to the falsy value, then execute something.

For example, we want to check whether the value is greater than or equals 18, then execute something, other do something else:

var age = 21;
var adultAge = 18;
console.log(age >= adultAge ? "You're an adult" : "You're not an adult");
// expected output: You're an adult

Because the condition is labelled to a truthy value, so You're an adult was printed out to the console.

We can rewrite this piece of code with if else statement:

var age = 21;
var adultAge = 18;
if(age >= adultAge){
console.log("You're an adult");
console.log("You're not an adult");

See, ternary operator is much shorter than if else statement.

Besides false, possible falsy expressions are: nullNaN0, the empty string (""), and undefined. If condition is any of these, the result of the conditional expression will be exprIfFalse. (try it now on your browser)

A simple example:

var age = 26;
var beverage = (age >= 21) ? "Beer" : "Juice";
console.log(beverage); // "Beer"

Also we can chain ternary operators together, it’s much shorter than if else statement, but it leads more confusing:

function example(…) {
    return condition1 ? value1
         : condition2 ? value2
         : condition3 ? value3
         : value4;

// Equivalent to:

function example(…) {
    if (condition1) { return value1; }
    else if (condition2) { return value2; }
    else if (condition3) { return value3; }
    else { return value4; }


Today we’ve learned about some fundamental things in JavaScript, if, else statement, else if statement and switch statement and see the difference between if else and switch. The boolean value is either labeled to true or false, not something midground. Truthy value is what is evaluated to true, and a falsy value is what is evaluated to false otherwise. We’ve learned what is ternary operator, which is much shorter than traditional if else statement.

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