Conditional Operator

The conditional (ternary) operator is the only JavaScript operator that takes three operands. This operator is frequently used as a shortcut for the if statement.


condition ? expr1 : expr2 


condition (or conditions)
An expression that evaluates to true or false.
expr1, expr2
Expressions with values of any type.


If condition is true, the operator returns the value of expr1; otherwise, it returns the value of expr2. For example, to display a different message based on the value of the isMember variable, you could use this statement:

'The fee is ' + (isMember ? '$2.00' : '$10.00');

You can also assign variables depending on a ternary result:

var elvisLives = Math.PI > 4 ? 'Yep' : 'Nope';

Multiple ternary evaluations are also possible (note: the conditional operator is right associative):

var firstCheck = false,
    secondCheck = false,
    access = firstCheck ? 'Access denied' : secondCheck ? 'Access denied' : 'Access granted';
console.log(access); // logs "Access granted"

You can also use multiple conditions like in a multiple-conditions IF statement

var condition1 = true,
    condition2 = false,
    access = condition1 ? (condition2 ? "true true": "true false") : (condition2 ? "false true" : "false false");

console.log(access); // logs "true false"

Note: The parentheses are not required, and do not affect the functionality. They are there to help visualize how the outcome is processed.

You can also use ternary evaluations in free space in order to do different operations:

var stop = false, age = 16;

age > 18 ? location.assign('continue.html') : stop = true;

You can also do more than one single operation per case, separating them with a comma:

var stop = false, age = 23;

age > 18 ? (
    alert('OK, you can go.'),
) : (
    stop = true,
    alert('Sorry, you are much too young!')

You can also do more than one operation during the assignation of a value. In this case, the last comma-separated value of the parenthesis will be the value to be assigned.

var age = 16;

var url = age > 18 ? (
    alert('OK, you can go.'), 
    // alert returns "undefined", but it will be ignored because
    // isn't the last comma-separated value of the parenthesis
    'continue.html' // the value to be assigned if age > 18
) : (
    alert('You are much too young!'),
    alert('Sorry :-('),
    // etc. etc.
    'stop.html' // the value to be assigned if !(age > 18)

location.assign(url); // "stop.html"


Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Edge Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari
Basic support (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes)
Feature Android Chrome for Android Edge Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Mobile Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Basic support (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes)

See also

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