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Understanding Errors

Understanding Errors

Whenever TypeScript finds an error, it tries to explain what went wrong in as much detail as possible. Because its type system is structural, this often means providing somewhat lengthy descriptions of where it found a problem.

Terminology

There is some terminology you’ll frequently see in error messages that is helpful to understand.

assignable to

TypeScript considers a type assignable to another type if one is an acceptable substitute for the other. In other words, a Cat is assignable to an Animal because a Cat is an acceptable substitute for an Animal.

As its name implies, this relationship is used to check the validity of an assignment t = s; by examining the types of t and s. It’s also used to check most other places where two types interact. For example, when calling a function, each argument’s type must be assignable to parameter’s declared type.

Informally, if you see T is not assignable to S, you can think of that as TypeScript saying ”T and S are not compatible”. However, note that this is a directional relationship: S being assignable to T does not imply that T is assignable to S.

Examples

Let’s look at some example error messages and understand what’s going on.

Error Elaborations

Each error starts with a leading message, sometimes followed by more sub-messages. You can think of each sub-message as answering a “why?” question about the message above it. Let’s work through some examples to see how they work in practice.

Here’s an example that produces an error message longer than the example itself:

let a: { m: number[] }; let b = { m: [""] }; a = b; Type '{ m: string[]; }' is not assignable to type '{ m: number[]; }'. Types of property 'm' are incompatible. Type 'string[]' is not assignable to type 'number[]'. Type 'string' is not assignable to type 'number'.2322Type '{ m: string[]; }' is not assignable to type '{ m: number[]; }'. Types of property 'm' are incompatible. Type 'string[]' is not assignable to type 'number[]'. Type 'string' is not assignable to type 'number'.Try

TypeScript found an error when checking the last line. Its logic for issuing an error follows from its logic for determining if the assignment is OK:

  1. Is b’s type assignable to a’s? No. Why?
  2. Because the type of the m property is incompatible. Why?
  3. Because b’s m property (string[]) is not assignable to a’s m property (number[]). Why?
  4. Because one array’s element type (string) is not assignable to the other (number)

Extra Properties

type A = { m: number }; const a: A = { m: 10, n: "" }; Type '{ m: number; n: string; }' is not assignable to type 'A'. Object literal may only specify known properties, and 'n' does not exist in type 'A'.2322Type '{ m: number; n: string; }' is not assignable to type 'A'. Object literal may only specify known properties, and 'n' does not exist in type 'A'.Try

Union Assignments

type Thing = "none" | { name: string }; const a: Thing = { name: 0 }; Type 'number' is not assignable to type 'string'.2322Type 'number' is not assignable to type 'string'.Try

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Contributors to this page:
RCRyan Cavanaugh  (52)
OTOrta Therox  (2)
DRDaniel Rosenwasser  (1)
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Last updated: Sep 23, 2020