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JavaScript JavaScript Basics (Retired) Creating Reusable Code with Functions Giving Information to Functions

Multiple Values in return


Great video but I am stumped by what I saw Dave do in this video. Specifically, I saw him add a couple of strings in the return keyword, which I thought was prohibited. In my code, which worked identical to his, I wrote (in the var):

function getArea(width, length, unit) { var area = (width * length) + " " + unit; return area; }

alert(getArea(10, 20, "ft.sq"));

However, he wrote (in the return):

function getArea(width, length, unit) { var area = (width * length) return area + " " + unit; }

alert(getArea(10, 20, "ft.sq"));

Both works fine, so could someone please elaborate how he is able to put a string and an argument into the return code? Are those not each individual values?


2 Answers

Steven Parker
Steven Parker
229,644 Points

Both versions are returning a single string. The plus signs are not performing math but string concatenation. The difference is that in your version, you perform the concatenation as you assign the string to the variable "area", which you return. And you need those parentheses to be sure the math calculation happens before any string conversion.

In the other version, the variable "area" is only assigned the result of the calculation, so it is a number instead of a string. But then in the return statement, the same concatenation is performed to create a string (with no name) and that string is returned. His version doesn't actually have any parentheses (and does not need them).

So in both cases, what is returned is exactly the same thing.

Hi Steven,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Appreciate the answer and that makes sense, especially that you brought up concatenation.


Brandon Benefield
Brandon Benefield
7,739 Points

Steven Parker has a great answer but I feel it may still leave you confused. The easiest way I can explain it, is to think about the return statement just like an alert() or console.log(). In alert() and console.log() you can return anything you want as long as it is valid JavaScript. The only difference is a return statement is used inside of a function.

func sentence(greeting, goodbye) {
  return greeting + ' ' + 'It was nice to see you!' + ' ' + goodbye;

sentence('Hello', 'See you later!') //returns 'Hello It was nice to see you! See you later!'

Is the equivalent of a simple console.log()

var greeting = 'Hello';
var goodbye = 'See you later!';

console.log(greeting + ' ' + 'It was nice to see you!' + ' ' + goodbye) //returns 'Hello It was nice to see you! See you later!'

Another example to help solidify this knowledge is attempting to use a return statement outside of a function, you will be met with an error Uncaught SyntaxError: Illegal return statement.

if (true === true) {
  return true; // Uncaught SyntaxError: Illegal return statement
if (true === true) {
  console.log(true); // returns 'true';

Hi, thanks for the clarification. I think that makes sense now, but I will make sure to refer to this often as I continuously work on JS. Maybe I answered my own question, but it seems that in both instances, function or var, I "technicall" only put in one value, since concatenation is simply joining something to still make only ONE value? Is this correct to assume?

Brandon Benefield
Brandon Benefield
7,739 Points

Nick Caligari I never looked at it like that before but yea, I would say that is a great way to look at it.