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The conditional (ternary) operator is the only JavaScript operator that takes three operands: a condition followed by a question mark (?), then an expression to execute if the condition is truthy followed by a colon (:), and finally the expression to execute if the condition is falsy. This operator is frequently used as a shortcut for the if statement.


condition ? exprIfTrue : exprIfFalse


An expression whose value is used as a condition.
An expression which is evaluated if the condition evaluates to a truthy value (one which equals or can be converted to true).
An expression which is executed if the condition is falsy (that is, has a value which can be converted to false).


Besides false, possible falsy expressions are: null, NaN, 0, the empty string (""), and undefined. If condition is any of these, the result of the conditional expression will be the result of executing the expression exprIfFalse.


A simple example

var age = 26;
var beverage = (age >= 21) ? "Beer" : "Juice";
console.log(beverage); // "Beer"

Handling null values

One common usage is to handle a value that may be null:

let greeting = person => {
    let name = person ? : `stranger`
    return `Howdy, ${name}`

console.log(greeting({name: `Alice`}));  // "Howdy, Alice"
console.log(greeting(null));             // "Howdy, stranger"

Conditional chains

The ternary operator is right-associative, which means it can be "chained" in the following way, similar to an if … else if … else if … else chain:

function example(…) {
    return condition1 ? value1
         : condition2 ? value2
         : condition3 ? value3
         : value4;

// Equivalent to:

function example(…) {
    if (condition1) { return value1; }
    else if (condition2) { return value2; }
    else if (condition3) { return value3; }
    else { return value4; }


ECMAScript (ECMA-262)
The definition of 'Conditional Operator' in that specification.

Browser compatibility

Update compatibility data on GitHub
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidSafari on iOSSamsung InternetNode.js
Conditional operator (c ? t : f)Chrome Full support 1Edge Full support 12Firefox Full support 1IE Full support 3Opera Full support 3Safari Full support 1WebView Android Full support 1Chrome Android Full support 18Firefox Android Full support 4Opera Android Full support 10.1Safari iOS Full support 1Samsung Internet Android Full support 1.0nodejs Full support 0.1.100


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See also