Returning values

Values are returned by using the optional return statement. Any type may be returned, including arrays and objects. This causes the function to end its execution immediately and pass control back to the line from which it was called. See return for more information.

Notă:

If the return is omitted the value NULL will be returned.

Example #1 Use of return

<?php
function square($num)
{
    return 
$num $num;
}
echo 
square(4);   // outputs '16'.
?>

A function can not return multiple values, but similar results can be obtained by returning an array.

Example #2 Returning an array to get multiple values

<?php
function small_numbers()
{
    return array (
012);
}
list (
$zero$one$two) = small_numbers();
?>

To return a reference from a function, use the reference operator & in both the function declaration and when assigning the returned value to a variable:

Example #3 Returning a reference from a function

<?php
function &returns_reference()
{
    return 
$someref;
}

$newref =& returns_reference();
?>

For more information on references, please check out References Explained.

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User Contributed Notes 6 notes

up
8
rstaveley at seseit dot com
4 years ago
Developers with a C background may expect pass by reference semantics for arrays. It may be surprising that  pass by value is used for arrays just like scalars. Objects are implicitly passed by reference.

<?php

# (1) Objects are always passed by reference and returned by reference

class Obj {
    public
$x;
}

function
obj_inc_x($obj) {
   
$obj->x++;
    return
$obj;
}

$obj = new Obj();
$obj->x = 1;

$obj2 = obj_inc_x($obj);
obj_inc_x($obj2);

print
$obj->x . ', ' . $obj2->x . "\n";

# (2) Scalars are not passed by reference or returned as such

function scalar_inc_x($x) {
   
$x++;
    return
$x;
}

$x = 1;

$x2 = scalar_inc_x($x);
scalar_inc_x($x2);

print
$x . ', ' . $x2 . "\n";

# (3) You have to force pass by reference and return by reference on scalars

function &scalar_ref_inc_x(&$x) {
   
$x++;
    return
$x;
}

$x = 1;

$x2 =& scalar_ref_inc_x($x);    # Need reference here as well as the function sig
scalar_ref_inc_x($x2);

print
$x . ', ' . $x2 . "\n";

# (4) Arrays use pass by value sematics just like scalars

function array_inc_x($array) {
   
$array{'x'}++;
    return
$array;
}

$array = array();
$array['x'] = 1;

$array2 = array_inc_x($array);
array_inc_x($array2);

print
$array['x'] . ', ' . $array2['x'] . "\n";

# (5) You have to force pass by reference and return by reference on arrays

function &array_ref_inc_x(&$array) {
   
$array{'x'}++;
    return
$array;
}

$array = array();
$array['x'] = 1;

$array2 =& array_ref_inc_x($array); # Need reference here as well as the function sig
array_ref_inc_x($array2);

print
$array['x'] . ', ' . $array2['x'] . "\n";
up
5
Anonymous
4 years ago
As of at least PHP 5.3, a function or class method returning an object acts like an object.

<?php

class A {
    function
test() {
        echo
"Yay!";
        }
    }

function
get_obj() {
    return new
A();
    }

get_obj()->test();  // "Yay!"

?>

Sorry, still doesn't work with arrays.  Ie <?php echo get_array()[1]; ?> fails.
up
5
bgalloway at citycarshare dot org
6 years ago
Be careful about using "do this thing or die()" logic in your return lines.  It doesn't work as you'd expect:

<?php
function myfunc1() {
    return(
'thingy' or die('otherthingy'));
}
function
myfunc2() {
    return
'thingy' or die('otherthingy');
}
function
myfunc3() {
    return(
'thingy') or die('otherthingy');
}
function
myfunc4() {
    return
'thingy' or 'otherthingy';
}
function
myfunc5() {
   
$x = 'thingy' or 'otherthingy'; return $x;
}
echo
myfunc1(). "\n". myfunc2(). "\n". myfunc3(). "\n". myfunc4(). "\n". myfunc5(). "\n";
?>

Only myfunc5() returns 'thingy' - the rest return 1.
up
3
nick at itomic.com
11 years ago
Functions which return references, may return a NULL value. This is inconsistent with the fact that function parameters passed by reference can't be passed as NULL (or in fact anything which isnt a variable).

i.e.

<?php

function &testRet()
{
    return
NULL;
}

if (
testRet() === NULL)
{
    echo
"NULL";
}
?>

parses fine and echoes NULL
up
0
ian at NO_SPAM dot verteron dot net
11 years ago
In reference to the poster above, an additional (better?) way to return multiple values from a function is to use list(). For example:

function fn($a, $b)
{
   # complex stuff

   return array(
      $a * $b,
      $a + $b,
   );
}

list($product, $sum) = fn(3, 4);

echo $product; # prints 12
echo $sum; # prints 7
up
-4
ahmad at myandmyhost dot comze dot com
10 months ago
we can return array using foreach
<?php
function my_func2()
{
    return array(
"Name"=>"Ahmad Sayeed","Email"=>"ahmad@gmail.com");
   
}
$ar = my_func2();
foreach(
$ar as $key=>$value)
{echo
$key." , ".$value,"<br />";}

?>
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