Is var Dead? What should I use?

We've learned about let and const — what they do, and how they're scoped. We also know when they can be reassigned and when they cannot, but there's a question: What Should I actually use?

That's a bit of a hot topic in the community right now, because some people prefer to still use var. Some people are saying, "var is dead!" Some say, "Use let." while others always use const.

var isn't dead - it still does what it always has done — it's function scoped and you can reassign or re-bind it. You may very well continue to choose it. There isn't a right answer here, just opinions. Check them out and make your own decisions.

I'm just going to go over two of the leading opinions here. These are both done by some very, very smart people in the JavaScript scene, so I'll let you pick your own.

This one, by Mathias Bynens, is how I do it. He says that "`const` is not about immutability where you can change the properties."

Later on in the article he talks about let vs. const...

  • Use const by default

  • Use let only if rebinding is needed.

  • var should not be ever used in ES6.

Whenever you make a variable, assume it's const. Only use let if you need to update the value of the variable. You can use const to keep it the same value.

Another popular opinion here is from Kyle Simpson, and he also writes a whole bunch of awesome JavaScript books.
  • Use var for top-level variables that are shared across many (especially larger) scopes.

  • Use let for localized variables in smaller scopes.

  • Refactor let to const only after some code has to be written, and you're reasonably sure that you've got a case where there shouldn't be variable reassignment.

He says, basically, Use var to share larger scopes so you can put them inside of your function, and use let in smaller scopes. If you realize later that you need to update a value, you'd have to go back and make it a let instead of a const. If you use let, it's easier to go back and refactor them to const.

Both of those are very valid opinions. I'll let you make your own choice on that, but through the series, I'll be using const by default, let whenever I need to reassign a variable, and stay away from var entirely.

Find an issue with this post? Think you could clarify, update or add something?

All my posts are available to edit on Github. Any fix, little or small, is appreciated!

Edit on Github

Syntax Podcast

Hold on — I'm grabbin' the last one.

Listen Now →

@wesbos Instant Grams

One sec, getting the gramz...

Master Gatsby

Master Gatsby

Building modern websites is tough. Preloading, routing, compression, critical CSS, caching, scaling and bundlers all make for blazing fast websites, but extra development and tooling get in the way.

Gatsby is a React.js framework that does it all for you. This course will teach you how to build your websites and let Gatsby take care of all the Hard Stuff™.
I post videos on and code on

Wes Bos © 1999 — 2020