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Hasib Ahmed
Hasib Ahmed

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Common Types in TypeScript (part 1)

In this instalment of the "Why TypeScript" series, we'll dive into some common types you see within TypeScript, with some code examples along the way.

This is part 1 of the common types in TypeScript, there will be a part 2 to follow which explain a few more in depth types within TypeScript.



Along with this file, there are code examples in common-types-examples.ts.

There is a TypeScript playground where you can write, learn and share TypeScript. This is a sandbox environment in which you can experiment with TypeScript syntax in a safe area.

The TypeScript handbook includes really good introductory documentation to the "everyday types" that you will encounter on your TS journey! To add to this, there is the utility types which make common type transformations easier.

Please note the primitive types below are in lowercase. The following types: Boolean, Number, String, Symbol and Object refer to non-primitive boxed objects that are almost never used appropriately in JavaScript code. See TypeScripts do's and don'ts on general types for more information.


The following have code examples in common-types-examples.ts.

Similar to JavaScript, there are 3 commonly used primitives:



  • This is the same as in JavaScript, simple true/false value
const isFun: boolean = false;
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  • There is no int or float, everything is number to JavaScript/TS
const pie: number = 3.14;
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  • Like JavaScript, strings can use single quotes or double quotes
  • Template string using backticks and the ${} syntax
// strings can use single quotes
const favouriteColour: string = 'Black';

// or double quotes
const fullName: string = "Hasib Ahmed";

// template string, using backticks
const greet: string = `Salutations ${fullName}!`;
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As well as these primitives, there are other basic types in TypeScript which you should be aware of:


  • There is a primitive in JavaScript used to create a globally unique reference via the function Symbol()
  • Symbol represents unique tokens that can be used as keys for object properties
// symbol
// note that both variables have what seems to be the same value
const firstName = Symbol("name");
const secondName = Symbol("name");

// if we check their equality, it will always return false & TS will give us an error
if (firstName === secondName) {
// can not happen as each Symbol is a globally unique reference
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  • Introduced in TypeScript 3.2, it provides a way to represent whole numbers that are very large integers. If you're interested, it's numbers larger than 9007199254740991
  • You can get a bigint in 2 ways:
    • Calling the BigInt() function
    • Writing a BigInt literal by adding n to the end of any numeric integer
  • NOTE: You can only use the bigint type if you are targeting version ESNext
// creation via the BigInt function
const big1: bigint = BigInt(200);

// creation via the literal syntax
let big2: bigint = 200n;
let big3 = 100.20n; // error as this value is a decimal
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  • Like JavaScript, null is used to indicate an absent value
const absentValue: null = null;
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  • Like JavaScript, undefined is used to indicate an uninitialised value
const uninitialisedValue: undefined = undefined;
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Note: null and undefined will not be factored into any type checks unless you have the strictNullChecks option enabled (this will be covered in a later posts).



  • A top type of TypeScript's type system (aka universal supertype)
  • TypeScripts Do's and Don'ts explicitly say not to use any as a type unless you are migrating an existing JavaScript project to TypeScript
  • any represents all possible JavaScript values; primitives, objects, arrays, functions, errors, symbols, etc
  • TypeScript lets us perform any operation we want on values of type any without having to perform any kind of checking beforehand
  • However, In most cases, this is too permissive and can be problematic at runtime. There is not much protection offered from TypeScript when using the any type
// any
let value: any;

// all the below are type-correct
new value();
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  • Another top type of TypeScript's type system
  • If a variable is not known at the time of writing (e.g. accepting all values from user input) we can use the unknown type here
  • You can narrow your unknown type variable to something more specific by doing typeof checks, comparison checks, or more advanced type guards
  • This is known as type narrowing
  • This is similar to any, as the value can be of any type but it is essentially safe by default
// unknown type with above code in same file
let value1: unknown;

// the following operations are no longer considered type-correct (value1[0] would not be type-correct with the strictNullChecks option on)
value1.trim(); // ERROR: Object is of type 'unknown'
value1[0]; // ERROR: Object is of type 'unknown'; // ERROR: Object is of type 'unknown'
new value1(); // ERROR: Object is of type 'unknown'

// unknown type pt2
// set unknown type to default of null for this example
let userInput: unknown = null;

// variable userInput can be any specific type, so all the below work fine
userInput = "mumbo jumbo";
userInput = 10;
userInput = true;

// simple typeof checks for an unknown type
if (typeof userInput === "boolean") {
  // TS knows that userInput is a boolean now
  // we can save this in a new const (or let) now we know the type and value
  const userInputBool: boolean = userInput;
  // within this typeof check block, you cannot assign userInput to another type
  // the following will show a type error
  const userInputNumber: number = userInput; // ERROR: Type 'boolean' is not assignable to type 'number'
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  • Everything that isn’t a primitive type in TypeScript is a subclass of the object type
    • i.e. anything that is not number, string, boolean, bigint, symbol, null, or undefined
// defining an object explicitly
const myObject: object = {};
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  • TypeScript allows you to work with an array of values similar to JavaScript
  • There are 2 ways to write an array type
    • Use the type of element followed by square brackets e.g. number[] = []
    • Use the generic array type (generics will be covered in later posts/updates) e.g. Array<number> = []
// defining arrays
// method 1
let arr1: number[] = [1, 2, 3];

// method 2, using generics
let arr2: Array<number> = [1, 2, 3];
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  • A tuple type allows you to express an array with a fixed number of elements, of which the types are known
  • For example, you can represent a string and number type in an array
// tuples
let person: [string, number];

// initialise in the correct order
person = ["Bob", 18];

// attempt to initialise in the incorrect order, gives us type errors
person = [18, "Bob"]; // ERROR 1: Type of 'number' is not assignable to type 'string'. ERROR 2: Type of 'string' is not assignable to type 'number'.

// attempt to initialise it as empty, gives us type errors
person = []; // ERROR: Type '[]' is not assignable to type '[string, number]'

// access correct element at index, correct type is retrieved and we can do an operation on the string

// attempt to access the same substring element at the incorrect index, and we get a type error
person[1].substring(1); // ERROR: Property 'substring' does not exist on type 'number'.

// attempt to access element outside the set of known indicies will error
person[3]; // ERROR: Tuple type '[string, number]' of length 2 has no element at index '3'.

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  • Unlike most TypeScript features, this is not a type-level addition to JavaScript but something added to the language and runtime s
  • As in languages like C#, an enum is a way of giving more friendly names to sets of numeric values
  • Read more about enums here
// enums
// enums begin numbering their members starting at 0
enum Colour {
  Green, // index 0
  Amber, // index 1
  Red, // index 2

// call element by index
console.log(Colour[0]); // Green

// you can manually set the values in the enum
enum roomInMetres {
  Floor1 = 100,
  Floor2 = 321,
  Floor3 = 5,

// call element by it's name
console.log(roomInMetres.Floor2); // 321
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In the next post in this series we will be going over union types, discriminated unions, casting to a different types and classes!

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