Sometimes we need access to the elements’ indices or we only want to iterate through a portion of a list. If that’s the case, a regular for loop or while loop is a great choice.

For example, we can use a for loop to print out each element in an array called inventoryItems:

for (int inventoryItem = 0; inventoryItem < inventoryItems.length; inventoryItem++) { // Print element at current index System.out.println(inventoryItems[inventoryItem]); }

But sometimes we couldn’t care less about the indices; we only care about the element itself.

At times like this, for-each loops come in handy.

For-each loops, which are also referred to as enhanced loops, allow us to directly loop through each item in a list of items (like an array or ArrayList) and perform some action with each item.

If we want to use a for-each loop to rewrite our program above, the syntax looks like this:

for (String inventoryItem : inventoryItems) { // Print element value System.out.println(inventoryItem); }

Our enhanced loop contains two items: an enhanced for loop variable (inventoryItem) and a list to traverse through (inventoryItems).

We can read the : as “in” like this: for each inventoryItem (which should be a String) in inventoryItems, print inventoryItem.

If we try to assign a new value to the enhanced for loop variable, the value stored in the array or ArrayList will not change. This is because, for every iteration in the enhanced loop, the loop variable is assigned a copy of the list element.

Note: We can name the enhanced for loop variable whatever we want; using the singular of a plural is just a convention. We may also encounter conventions like String word : sentence.



Let’s use a for-each loop to find the priciest item in expenses.

Build a for-each loop that iterates through each expense in expenses. For now, leave the body of the loop empty.


Inside the for-each loop, check if expense is greater than mostExpensive.

If it is, set mostExpensive equal to expense.

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