Prefix vs Postfix

So, I've run into a small flub disgused as learning experience. I was writing up a short post about using the increment operator and I learned something new.

The increment and decrement operators in JS (and many other langauges) have two styles of functioning, either as postfix or prefix.

If you are like me, you are probably most familar with the postfix style, or writing your increment as i++. It's likely you are not using the value returned from this function, rather it's probably in a loop.

But, for giggles, lets say you need to know right away what i++ is.

var i = 0; console.log(i++);

So, what gets logged? You may think 1, but due to the way postfix works, you'll actually see 0.

The function returns i before the increment takes place. That means if you write var plus = i++ and expect to have plus equal i + 1 you'll be in for a whirl. Thus, prefix and postfix operators come in to play.


++i returns the incremented value right away. This allows you to reference the incremented value before using i later on in the script, like so:

var i = 2016;
var newYear = ++i;
console.log('Next year is ' + newYear + '. The year after is ' + ++i);


Unlike prefix, the variable value is returned before the operation takes place.

Tagged under: javascript, php, increment operator