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The Essential JavaScript Operators


When using an expression like 2 + 3 equals 5, the 2 and the 3 are operands and the + is known as the operator. JavaScript allows you to perform operations on data operands. Here is a list of supported operators:

  •  Assignment Operators
  • Arithmetic Operators
  •   Unary Operators
  •  Comparison Operators
  •  String Operators
  •  Logical Operators

All of the operators won’t be covered in this one tutorial since all we need are the essentials to get started with programming. Once we’ve reached a certain level of programming I will go into more details on the ones that have been left out.

Assignment Operators

The most basic assignment operator is the = sign which assigns the value on the right operand to the left. The other assignment operators that are listed below are considered shorthand.

var x = 3; // Assigns the value 3 to x
x += 5; // The value of x will be 8
x -= 1; // The value will be 4

If the last two statement above confused you a little, it’s okay. The first statement assigns x the value of 3. On the statement below it we aren’t creating a new variable since there is no var in front of it. What we are doing instead is taking the value of x and adding 5 to it with the += operator which gives you the value of 8 in the end.  Finally, the last statement takes the value of x, which is currently 8 and subtracts 1.  That leaves x as 7.

Arithmetic Operators

Arithmetic has the basic operators used in JavaScript and are easily recognizable. It’s not just limited to 2 operands, but for example purposes lets stick to simple expressions.

var x = 2 + 5 // Adds 2 numbers which assigns 7 to the variable x
var y = 3 * 4 // Multiplies 2 numbers which assigns 12 to the variable y
var z = 7 – 6 // Subtracts 2 numbers which assigns 1 to the variable z
var a = 8 / 2 // Divides 2 numbers which assigns 4 to the variable a

Another operator is known as the modulus which is represented by the % symbol. What it does is divides the two operands and the remainder is the result.

var x = 11 % 5 // x is equal to 1 because the remainder here is 1

Unary Operators

Unary operators only need a single operand, and it can be placed in front or behind the operator. They are pretty straight forward and great to use.
Let’s start by creating a variable with a value of 5.

var x = 5

Typically using the arithmetic operand, to add one you can simply write this:

x = x + 1; // Since x was initially 5 we added one to make it 6

It’s simple and it works! There’s another way of doing it though. An easier and quicker way.  This is just a brief introduction and I will go into more detail about it in a later tutorial.

var x = 3;
x = x + 1; // Equals 4
x++; // Equals 5

Since x started out as 3 we then added 1 to it to make it for. Then after that we used the unary operator ++ and added 1 to it again which then leaves x as 5.  Now if you want to subtract one all you have to do is use the — operator instead.

x--; // Subtract one from the value of x.

For now if you’re new to JavaScript and are following along I would stick to the more traditional arithmetic operator (+) until I come back to explaining more on the unary operators.


There are a good amount of operators that can be used in JavaScript where I covered just the basic assignment, arithmetic and partially, the unary operator.  In the next tutorial we’ll go ahead and look at important conditional statements.

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