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Cover image for Logical operators || (OR) and && (AND) and how to use them to find the first truthy or falsey value in a chain of operands

Logical operators || (OR) and && (AND) and how to use them to find the first truthy or falsey value in a chain of operands

Pere Sola
Account Manager @Stripe during the day. Full stack software developer after-hours. @LambdaSchool graduate
・2 min read

Photo by Vasily Koloda from unsplash. It could be me walking through JS :)

Much of the content is based from this tutorial. It helps me put it in writing to remember!

|| OR

If any of its arguments is true then it returns true. Otherwise, it returns false. When combining 2 operands, there are 4 possible combinations:

alert( true || true );   // true
alert( false || true );  // true
alert( true || false );  // true
alert( false || false ); // false
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If the operand is not a boolean, it is converted to a boolean (truthy or falsey), like:

if (1 || 0) { // works just like if( true || false )
  alert( 'truthy!' );
}
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|| OR to find the first truthy value

You can use || OR to find the first truthy value if you have several operands. From what I read, what follows is a feature from Javascript.

  • It evaluates operands from left to right.
  • It converts each of them to boolean, and returns the first one being true.
  • If it reaches the end and it has not found any true (all were false), it returns the last operand.
alert( 1 || 0 ); // 1 (1 is truthy)

alert( null || 1 ); // 1 (1 is the first truthy value)
alert( null || 0 || 1 ); // 1 (the first truthy value)

alert( undefined || null || 0 ); // 0 (all falsy, returns the last value)
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You can use the || OR to do short-circuit evaluation: all operands will be evaluated until the first truthy is found, and that value is returned without reaching the following ones. For instance:

true || alert("not printed");
false || alert("printed");
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Will print the second message only because, in the first one, evaluation stops upon reaching the first operand, which is true.

&& AND

true is returned if both operands are true. Otherwise, false is returned:

alert( true && true );   // true
alert( false && true );  // false
alert( true && false );  // false
alert( false && false ); // false
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Like in || OR, operands are evaluated as booleans:

if (1 && 0) { // evaluated as true && false
  alert( "won't work, because the result is falsy" );
}
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&& AND to find the first falsy value

Same as with || OR, multiple operands can be evaluated and this time && helps you find the first falsy value:

  • It evaluates from left to right.
  • It converts each operand to boolean, and when it finds the first false it stops and returns its value.
  • If it reaches the end of the operands and all of them are truthy, it returns the last one.
// if the first operand is truthy,
// AND returns the second operand:
alert( 1 && 0 ); // 0
alert( 1 && 5 ); // 5

// if the first operand is falsy,
// AND returns it. The second operand is ignored
alert( null && 5 ); // null
alert( 0 && "no matter what" ); // 0
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&& AND takes precedence over || OR, so a && b || c && d is the same as if the && were in parenthesis: (a && b) || (c && d).

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