Published Aug 23, 2021Updated Oct 11, 2022
Contribute to Docs

Assignability is how TypeScript can determine whether a value of a particular data type can be assigned to a variable of the same (or another) data type.

When/Where Assignability Takes Place

TypeScript performs assignability checks whenever a value is being assigned into another location in the computer’s memory, such as:

  • Assigning values to variables.
  • Passing arguments to functions.

Example: Assigning Matching Data Types

In this snippet of code, TypeScript sees that the spooky variable is initially assigned a boolean value, so it believes the spooky variable should always be of type boolean.

Assigning a variable of type boolean later on is allowed, as a type is assignable to itself, but assigning any other type, such as a string, is not allowed:

let spooky = true;
spooky = false; // Allowed
spooky = 'skeletons'; // Not allowed

Running the code above will cause the following error:

Error: Type 'string' is not assignable to type 'boolean'.

Examples: Comparing Object Types

When comparing object types, TypeScript will ensure that all the required fields exist in the assigning object type. It will also ensure that all field that do exist on the types match up.

In the following example, we define an interface object called Skeleton, which will serve as a blueprint for the following:

  • The names of Skeleton properties.
  • The corresponding : type definitions.

the first receiveSkeleton() call works because its object argument contains both required properties -spooky and scary- and they are of the correct types.

interface Skeleton {
spooky: boolean;
scary: boolean;
function receiveSkeleton(skeleton: Skeleton) {
console.log(skeleton.spooky ? 'Spooky ' : 'Not spooky...');
console.log(skeleton.scary ? 'scary!' : 'Not scary...');
receiveSkeleton({ spooky: true, scary: false }); // Ok

The second example throws an Error because the spooky property is of type string instead of boolean:

spooky: 'Very!',
scary: true,

The error will look like this:

Error: Type 'string' is not assignable to type 'boolean'

This third and final example throws an Error because the object we passed to receiveSkeleton was missing a scary property.

spooky: false,

The following error will occur, per the TypeScript checker:

Error: Argument of type '{ spooky: false; }'
is not assignable to parameter of type 'Skeleton'.
Property 'scary' is missing in type '{ spooky: false; }'
but required in type 'Skeleton'.

All contributors

Looking to contribute?

Learn TypeScript on Codecademy