What Is PHP Function Return Type And How Is It Used?

21 June 2023 298 Reading time: 1 minute

Starting from PHP 7.0, PHP introduced support for return types in functions. Return types are used to specify the type of value that a function will return. They enhance code readability and allow the compiler to perform type checking.

To specify the return type of a function, you can use the : type expression in the function declaration. Here are a few examples:

function addNumbers(int $a, int $b): int {
    return $a + $b;

In the above example, the addNumbers function indicates that it will return a value of type int. If the function tries to return a value that is not of the specified type, an error will occur.

Here are some examples of return types you can use:

  • int: Integer value
  • float: Floating-point number value
  • string: String value
  • bool: Boolean value (true or false)
  • array: Array value
  • void: Used for functions that do not return any value

PHP also supports the use of the ? symbol for return types. For example, the ?string expression indicates that a function can return either a string value or null.

Starting from PHP 8.0, keywords such as class, interface, static, and self can also be used for more complex return types.

Return types are beneficial, especially in large projects, as they improve code readability and facilitate debugging. However, return types are not mandatory and should be gradually added to existing codebases to maintain backward compatibility.

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