Array Methods in JavaScript

March 16, 2020

In JavaScript, arrays are list-like variables which store multiple values in a given order. There are numerous built in methods we can call on arrays to modify or arrange them. Though there are dozens of such methods, these are a few that I have found particularly useful. Follow along by either reading the code blocks beneath each function, or entering the commands in the terminal yourself.

Mutator Methods

push | pop | shift | reverse


These methods will modify the contents of an array:


const tasksArray = ["shop", "cook"];
const nextTask = "eat";

console.log("Tasks: ", tasksArray);
>> Tasks: ["shop", "cook", "eat"];

This method takes an element as its argument to add to the end of an array. Push returns the length of the new array when stored in a variable.


const numbersArray = [1, 2, 3];
const lastNumber = numbersArray.pop();

console.log("New Array: ", numbersArray);
console.log("Popped Number: ", lastNumber);
>> New Array: [1, 2] 
>> Popped Number: 3

This method removes the last element of an array, and returns that element when called. Pop is essentially the opposite of push()


const numbers = [1, 2, 3];
const firstNumber = numbers.shift();

console.log("New Array: ", numbers);
console.log("Shifted Number: ", firstNumber);
>> New Array: [2, 3]
>> Shifted Number: 1

This method removes the first element of an array, and returns that element. shift() is like pop(), except at the beginning of the array instead of the end. (Another method unshift() is like push() but instead for the beginning of the array)


const inOrder = [1, 2, 3, 4];
const reversedNumbers = inOrder.reverse();

console.log("Reversed: ", reversedNumbers);
>> Reversed: [4, 3, 2, 1]

This method reverses the entire order of an array so that the first element is in the beginning and the last is at the end. The reverse method returns the reversed array.

Accessor Methods

concat | indexOf | slice | split | join


The following methods do not mutate the initial array, instead they return a new array based off of it:


const begin = [1, 2];
const end = [3, 4, 5];
const combined = begin.concat(end);

console.log("Combined: ", combined);
>> Combined: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]


const automobile = ["truck", "sedan", "suv", "motorcycle"];

console.log("SUV Index: ", automobile.indexOf("suv"));
console.log("Airplane Index: ", automobile.indexOf("airplane"));
>> SUV Index: 2
>> Airplane Index: -1

This method returns the index of the first instance of the element in the array if it exists. If this element is not contained in the array, the indexOf method returns -1.


const travelItems = ["hat", "phone", "map", "snack"];

const middleItems = travelItems.slice(1,3);
const endItems = travelItems.slice(2);

console.log("Middle Items: ", middleItems);
console.log("End Items: ", endItems);
>> Middle Items: ["phone", "map"]
>> End Items: ["map", "snack"]

This method returns a portion of the original array starting at the beginning index until just before the ending index. The length of the returned array is the difference of the passed indexes when they are positive. If only one argument is passed to slice, it returns the portion of the original array starting with the beginning index until the end of the array.

Split and Join

const language = "JavaScript";
const letters = language.split("");

console.log("Split Word: ", letters);
>> Split Word: ["J", "a", "v", "a", "S", "c", "r", "i", "p", "t"]

Next we can recombine these letters with the .join() method

const word = letters.join("");
console.log("Joined Word: ", word);
>> Joined Word: JavaScript

This method combines the values of the original array, returning a string separated by the passed argument. If no argument is passed, the elements are separated by commas, but no spaces. If the argument “” or ‘’ is passed, the elements are joined together with no commas or spaces. The arguments “ “, “-”, “+” will join the array elements together, separating them with the separator in quotes.

Higher order methods

forEach | map | filter | reduce | sort


Each higher order method takes in a callback function as its argument and gets called once for each entry in the array. The first (and required) argument is an arbitrary variable name representing each individual entry in the array. Optionally, a second (index) and third (array) argument can be passed into each method


This method will call a specific block of JavaScript for each entry in an array. The forEach method does not return a value, so it’s primary purpose is the code run in the callback.

const countdownArray = [3, 2, 1];

countdownArray.forEach(item => {
    console.log("Countdown: ", item)
>> Countdown: 3
>> Countdown: 2
>> Countdown: 1


This method will create a new array with each entry containing the value returned in map’s callback function. Map is a great tool to reshape your data and can even return HTML, letting you quickly output data.

const people = ["Jim", "Alison", "Christopher", "Samuel", "Sara"];

const linesArray = => {
  if(name.length > 8) {
    return name + " is a long name"
  } else if (name.length > 5){
    return name + " is a medium name"
  } else {
    return name + " is a short name"

  "Jim is a short name", 
  "Alison is a medium name", 
  "Christopher is a long name", 
  "Samuel is a medium name", 
  "Sara is a short name"


This method also creates a new array like map. Each entry is only added to the new array if a it returns a value which resolves to true.

const integersArray = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
const even = integersArray.filter((number) => number % 2 === 0 );
console.log("Even Numbers: ", even);
>> Even Numbers: [2, 4]


This method takes an takes an accumulator and a current value argument. The current value argument is similar to the first variable in map and filter. It will be represent the current value of the array you are iterating through. Reduce also accepts a second argument, which is essentially a starting value for the accumulator. Here is a basic example use case of reduce

const firstFive = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];

const total = firstFive.reduce((accumulator, currentValue) => {
    return accumulator + currentValue
}, 0);

console.log("Reduced Array: ", total);
>> Reduced Array: 15


Like map and filter, this method takes as its argument a callback function which accepts up to three arguments: the current value, the current index, and the original array. Some iterates through the array, executing the callback function on each value. If at least one of the callback functions returns true, the some method also returns true.

const animals = ["lion", "bear", "cheetah", "hippo"];

const containsHippo = animals.some((animal) => {
    return animal === "hippo"

console.log("Contains a Hippo: ", containsHippo);
>> Contains a Hippo: true


This method is similar to some, except it requires the callback for every value of the array to return true. If any of the callback’s return false, the every method returns false. If all of the callback functions return true, the every method returns true.

const animalsArray = ["lion", "bear", "cheetah", "hippo"];

const allHippos = animalsArray.every((animal) => {
    return animal === "hippo"

console.log("Contains only Hippos: ", allHippos);
>> Contains only Hippos: false


These are just some of the many array methods available in Javascript. There is a wealth of understanding to be gained by trying out these methods yourself in the console. While it is easy to look these methods up as they are needed, gaining a more thorough understanding of how they work and what their limitations are is a great way to add depth to your Javascript toolkit.

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