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🧬 Prototype

Every object has a built-in property, which is prototype. The prototype itself is an object, so the prototype will have its own prototype, making what's called a prototype chain.

The prototype chain ends when we reach a prototype that has null for its own prototype.


The standard way to access an object's prototype is Object.getPrototypeOf(obj) method.

Prototype Chain

When you try to access a property of an object:

  • If the property cannot be found on the object itself, the prototype is searched for the property.
  • If the property still cannot be found, the prototype's prototype is searched, and so on.
  • If the end of the prototype chain is reached, the property still cannot be found, in this case undefined is returned.

Let's illustrate the above steps using a concrete example.

const person = {
name: "dan",
sayHello() {
console.log(`Hello mate, my name is ${}`);


When we call person.toString(), the JS engine

  1. Looks for toString in person object.
  2. Cannot find it, so looks in the prototype of person for toString.
  3. Finds toString in person's prototype, which is Object.prototype and calls it.

Setting a Prototype

There are many ways of setting an object's prototype in JS.

  • Object.create(obj)
  • constructor


The Object.create method creates a new object and allows you to specify an object that will be used as the new object's prototype.

const personPrototype = {
sayHello() {
console.log(`Hello mate, my name is ${}`);

const p = Object.create(personPrototype); = "xiaohai";


The above code create a object with personPrototype as its prototype. We are able to call sayHello() on the new object because the prototype provides the its implementation.


In JS, all functions have a property called prototype. When you call a function as a constructor, this property (prototype) is set as the prototype of the newly constructed object. (obj.__proto__)

const personPrototype = {
sayHello() {
console.log(`Hello mate, my name is ${}`);

function Person(name) { = name;

Object.assign(Person.prototype, personPrototype);

const p = new Person("dan=dan");
Object.getPrototypeOf(p) === personPrototype;

Object.assign is used to preserve the Person.prototype.constructor property.

The behavior of instanceof is controlled by Symbol.hasInstance, not constructor:

const arr = [];
arr.constructor = String;
arr instanceof String; // false
arr instanceof Array; // true

Own Property

The p object created above has 2 properties:

  1. a name property, which is set in the constructor, so it appears directly on the object.
  2. a sayHello property, which is set in the prototype.

Properties that are defined directly in the object, like name here, are called own properties. We can check if a property is an own property using Object.hasOwn(obj, prop).

const p = new Person("xiaohai");

console.log(Object.hasOwn(p, "name")); // true
console.log(Object.hasOwn(p, "sayHello")); // false