Variables

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Published May 7, 2021Updated Oct 11, 2022
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In Swift, values are stored in two types of containers: var for variables and let for constants.

As the names imply, a variable’s value can change or be reassigned later in the program, while a constant’s value cannot. It is best practice to use constants when possible to prevent unintentionally reassigning values later on in a program.

Note: Once a variable or constant’s data type has been established, whether explicitly or implicitly (inferred by the compiler), it cannot be changed. In addition, the variable name cannot be used for another data type within the same program. In the same manner, a variable cannot be changed into a constant and vice versa.

Declaring and Initializing Variables and Constants

Variables and constants do not require initialization when declared. However, the variable or constant requires type annotation so that when the compiler reads the code line-by-line, it can determine the data type at the time of the build. A Use of undeclared type error will be thrown otherwise. Swift also allows a wide range of characters to be used as constant and variable names including Unicode, characters, and emojis.

var dailyTemperature: Int
let boilingPoint = 100
var dailyHigh
// Compiler error: "Type annotation missing"

In the example above, dailyTemperature is declared as a variable because it’s expected to change daily. It has been declared, meaning the operating system has set aside storage for it, but it has not been initialized with a value. The constant boilingPoint will not change and is declared and initialized in the same line.

Below are some examples of using emojis as variable names.

let 🌕 = "Full Moon"
let 🌑 = "New Moon"
let 🌙 = "Crescent Moon"

Accessing and Reassigning Variables and Constants

The value of a variable can be changed by using the assignment operator to set the value to a different value of the same type. You can also use another variable to set the value of a variable.

var dailyTemperature: Int
let reallyHot = 50
// Monday
dailyTemperature = 18
// Tuesday
dailyTemperature = reallyHot

Note: Variables and constants can be passed directly into functions and methods or returned as the result.

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