instanceof vs typeof

instanceof and typeof are two operators to check the type of a value.


The typeof operator checks if a value has type of primitive type which can be one of boolean, function, object, number, string, undefined and symbol (ES6).
typeof 'helloworld';                // 'string'
typeof (new String('helloworld'));  // 'object'
The instanceof operator checks if a value is an instance of a class or constructor function.
'helloworld' instanceof String;                 // false
new String('helloworld') instanceof String;     // true

Good to know

  1. If you want to check if a value is a primitive string or a String object, then you need to use both operators:
    const isString = value => typeof value === 'string' || value instanceof String;
    isString('helloworld');             // true
    isString(new String('helloworld')); // true
    Another approach is to rely on the toString() of Object as below:
    const isString = value => === '[object String]';
    isString('hello world');                // true
    isString(new String('hello world'));    // true
    isString(10);                           // false
    We can use similar methods to check a value against given original or wrapped primitive types:
    const isBoolean = value => === '[object Boolean]';
  2. Be careful when creating a value of primitive type with constructor. The type of value can be changed based on the way you use it. In the piece of code below, we start with creating a string from the String constructor:
    let message = new String('hello');
    message instanceof String;  // true
    typeof message;             // 'object'
    We are going to append the string object with another string:
    message += ' world';
    Now, let's look at the result of the operators:
    message instanceof String;  // false
    typeof message;             // 'string'
    This type modifications are known as boxing and unboxing. Boxing is the process that wraps a primitive value by object. Unboxing extracts the wrapped primitive value from object.
  3. There is a special when using typeof with null:
    typeof null;    // 'object', not 'null'
  4. instanceof doesn't work for primitive types.
    If you want to use instanceof all the time, then you can override the behavior of instanceof by implementing a static method with the key of Symbol.hasInstance.
    In the following code, we create a class called PrimitiveNumber that checks if a value is a number:
    class PrimitiveNumber {
        static [Symbol.hasInstance](value) {
            return typeof value === 'number';
    12345 instanceof PrimitiveNumber;           // true
    'helloworld' instanceof PrimitiveNumber;    // false
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