Destructuring Assignment in ES6- Arrays

sarah_chima profile image Sarah Chima ・3 min read

Destructuring assignment is a cool feature that came along with ES6. Destructuring is a JavaScript expression that makes it possible to unpack values from arrays, or properties from objects, into distinct variables. That is, we can extract data from arrays and objects and assign them to variables. Why is this necessary?

Imagine if we want extract a data from an array. Previously, how will this be done?

    var introduction = ["Hello", "I" , "am", "Sarah"];
    var greeting = introduction[0];
    var name = introduction[3];


We can see that when we want to extract data from an array , we had to do the same thing over and over again. ES6 destucturing assignment makes it easier to extract this data. How is this so? This article discusses destructuring assignment of arrays. My next article will discuss that of objects. Let's get started.

Basic Destructuring

If we want to extract data using arrays, it's quite simple using destructuring assignment. Let's refer to our first example for arrays. Instead of going through that repetitive process, we'll do this.

    var introduction = ["Hello", "I" , "am", "Sarah"];
    var [greeting, pronoun] = introduction;


We can also do this with the same result.

    var [greeting, pronoun] = ["Hello", "I" , "am", "Sarah"];


Declaring Variables before Assingment
The variables can be declared before being assigned like this.

    var greeting, pronoun;
    [greeting, pronoun] = ["Hello", "I" , "am", "Sarah"];


Notice that the variables are set from left to right. So the first variable gets the first item in the array, the second variable gets the second variable in the array and so on.

Skipping Items in an Array

What if we want to get the first and last item on our array instead of the first and second item and we want to assign only two variables? This can also be done. Look at the example below.

    var [greeting,,,name] = ["Hello", "I" , "am", "Sarah"];


What just happened? Look at the array on the left side of the variable assignment. Notice that instead of having just one comma, we had three. The comma separator is used to skip values in an array. So if you want to skip an item on an array, just use a comma.

Let's do another one. I think it's fun. Let's skip the first and third item on the list. How will we do this?

    var [,pronoun,,name] = ["Hello", "I" , "am", "Sarah"];


So the comma separator does the magic. So if we want to skip all items, we just do this.

    var [,,,,] = ["Hello", "I" , "am", "Sarah"];

Assigning the rest of an array

What if we want to assign some of the array to variables and the rest of the items on an array to a particular variable? We'll do this.

    var [greeting,...intro] = ["Hello", "I" , "am", "Sarah"];

    console.log(intro);//["I", "am", "Sarah"]

Using this pattern, you can unpack and assign the remaining part of an array to a variable.

Destructuring Assignment with Functions
We can also extract data from an array returned from a function. Let's say we have a function that returns an array like the example below.

    function getArray() {
        return ["Hello", "I" , "am", "Sarah"];
    var[greeting,pronoun] = getArray();


We get the same results.

Using Default Values
Default values can be assigned to the variables just in case the value extracted from the array is undefined.

    var[greeting = "hi",name = "Sarah"] = ["hello"];


So name falls back to "Sarah" because it is not defined in the array.

Swapping Values using Destructuring Assignment
One more thing. We can use destructuring assignment to swap the values of variables.

    var a = 3;
    var b = 6;

    [a,b] = [b,a];


Next, I'll write on Object Destructuring.

Any question or addition? Please leave a comment.

Thank you for reading :)

Posted on Oct 30 '17 by:

sarah_chima profile

Sarah Chima


A Frontend web developer interested in making the web accessible for everyone.


markdown guide

Tank you for posting, didn't know about this way of skipping elements.

But the following sentence might be misleading (if it wouldn't be for the headline above):

What if we want to get the first and last item on the array...?

The way you show is really only working if you know the size of the array, which obviously you don't always do, e.g. when destructing an argument inside a function.

If you don't know it, you could do the following without touching the initial array:

const input = ["Hello", "I" , "am", "Sarah"];
const [greeting, ...rest] = input;
//rest == ["I" , "am", "Sarah"]
const name = rest.pop(); // rest is modified but input isn't
//or if you prefer or need more then one from the end
const [last, secondLast] = rest.reverse(); // rest is modified!

The ...name must always be the last part, so const [greeting, ...dontCare, name] = ... does not work.

We should also mention how destructing works when encountering [] and undefined:

var [a, b, ...rest] = [];
console.log(a,b,rest);//undefined, undefined, []

var [ouch] = undefined;//Uncaught TypeError: undefined is not iterable

Hm, iterable? What happens if we destruct some other iterable?

var [a, b, ...rest] = "abc,d";
console.log(a, b, rest);//"a", "b", ["c", ",", "d"]

Happy coding!


Wow . Thank you so much for this


I dint know that even string could be destructed.. i was under the impression that only Array and Objects can be done.. are there any others that can be destructed?(other than strings, objects, arrays)


Thank you for explaining this in an understandable human way!. It was very easy to digest and helpful.


This is an awesome piece..

I have some questions

let [greet = "hello world", name = "sarah"] = ["hello"];

console.log(greet); // returns "hello"

why is is overriding the default value assigned to hello?


I am not sure I understand your question fully but like the article explains , in this case , the array contains one element , "hello" and thus it overrides the default value of the first variable greet whilst the second variable is its default value as the array doesn't have a second element πŸ™‚ .


I think the question isn't that clear. Variables available are 'greet' and 'name' to which they both have default values. However, "greet" is assigned a value from Destructuring and thus will now return that value i.e ("hello") instead of it's default value give at initialization.


greet = "hello world" is just a default value , if there is the value in first element in parent array then it will get overridden for sure. That is what default value is made for.


Hi Ashley, I just tried the code now and it works as expected. Did you try printing the values of key and rowValues?


It does for me too now. /facepalm and thank you
I'll delete my original post to avoid confusing any one


It might be worth mentioning that the syntax used in code below is also called JavaScript rest parameter syntax, specifically the ...intro part,

var [greeting,...intro] = ["Hello", "I" , "am", "Sarah"];

What if you want to swap the variables inside a function? Something like this:

var a = 3;
var b = 6;

(() => {
  [a,b] = [b,a]


Do share your suggestions on this.


There is no need to call a function it will work without calling function.

var a = 3;
var b = 6;
[a,b] = [b,a]


Very nicely explained. Can you tell what is happening in below code :

case Actions.AC_UPDATE_TASK:
item = action.payload.item;
props = action.payload.props;
item.start = props.start ? props.start : item.start;
item.end = props.end ? props.end : item.end;
item.name = props.name ? props.name : item.name;
return {
data: [...state.data],
links: [...state.links],
selectedItem: state.selectedItem

Here item and props are coming as parameter,item is present there in data array. After manipulating item from props this item needs to be updated in data array but here its not updated in data array after manipulating it. But after destructuring syntax I can see the updated item in data array. How is this possible?


I just started learning JavaScript. I was not able to follow Destructuring in JavaScript. Your explanation and the examples were very simple and easy to understand. Thank you very much for posting such a great article.


Thank you for your kind words. I am glad you like the article.


I get into ruts of use it's nice to remember and see others' patterns. Well done.


You just impacted one more person with knowledge, thank you Sarah.


This is an awesome and very thorough explanation of destructuring assignment. Thanks!


Thank you for posting the article. It helped me understand Destructuring assignment.


Thank you for posting, it's very helpfull


This is awesome. Thank you, Sarah :-)


Hi I have an array item which conatains nested object, how to destructure 0: {applied_rule_ids: "XXX", base_currency_code: "AED", base_discount_amount: -310, base_grand_total: 300, base_discount_tax_compensation_amount: 14.78}
1: {applied_rule_ids: "YYY", base_currency_code: "AED", base_discount_amount: 0, base_grand_total: 170, base_discount_tax_compensation_amount: 0}
2: {base_currency_code: "AED", base_discount_amount: 0, base_discount_invoiced: 0, base_grand_total: 50, base_discount_tax_compensation_amount: 0}
3: {base_currency_code: "AED", base_discount_amount: 0, base_discount_invoiced: 0, base_grand_total: 100, base_discount_tax_compensation_amount: 0}


please I am still learning JS I tried out swapping with destructuring it didn't work i don't know why here is the code var a = 3
var b = 7
[a, b] = [b, a]



Hi Anya,

I'm still learning too, so I don't fully understand this, but it is an example of a situation where automatic semicolon insertion doesn't work the way you might expect. If you try

var a = 3
var b = 7;
[a, b] = [b, a]

you should find that you get the expected result. The following also works:

var a = 3
var b = 7
  [a, b] = [b, a]

console.log(a)   // expect 7
console.log(b)   // expect 3

However, without a semicolon after the 7, or the enclosing braces, it is somehow interpreted as

var a = 3
var b = [b, a]

console.log(a)   // expect 3
console.log(b)   // expect [undefined, 3]

Thank you so much for this, it comes handy.


Thank you for the informative piece, very explanatory was using this alongside a video tutorial on the subject matter, your example were easy to understand.


Thank you for reading it


Thank you Sarah, you made so easy to understand.