Understanding call, apply and bind in JavaScript: A Simplified Guide

JavaScript, as a multi-paradigm language, offers various ways to work with functions and their execution contexts. Three methods that often baffle newcomers are call, apply, and bind. Each of these plays a unique role in how functions are executed and how this is handled. Let’s break them down into simple terms.

What is this?

Before diving into call, apply, and bind, it’s crucial to understand this in JavaScript. The this keyword refers to the object that is currently executing or invoking the function. It’s dynamic and can change based on the execution context.

call Method

  • What it does: The call method invokes a function with a given this value and arguments provided one by one.
  • When to use it: Use call when you want to invoke a function and specify what this should refer to in the function’s body.
  • Example: Suppose you have a function greet and an object person. You can use call to execute greet in the context of person.
function greet() {
    console.log(`Hello, I am ${this.name}`);

const person = { name: 'Alice' };
greet.call(person);  // Output: "Hello, I am Alice"

apply Method

  • What it does: Similar to call, but instead of taking arguments one by one, apply takes arguments as an array.
  • When to use it: Use apply in situations similar to call, but where you have an array of arguments and you want to pass them to the function.


function introduce(age, profession) {
    console.log(`Hello, I am ${this.name}, a ${age}-year-old ${profession}.`);

const person = { name: 'Bob' };
introduce.apply(person, [30, 'Developer']);
// Output: "Hello, I am Bob, a 30-year-old Developer."

bind Method

  • What it does: Unlike call and apply, bind does not immediately invoke the function. Instead, it returns a new function, where this is bound to a specific object.
  • When to use it: Use bind when you want to create a new function with a pre-set this value.


function saySomething(something) {
    console.log(`${this.name} says ${something}`);

const person = { name: 'Charlie' };
const personSpeaks = saySomething.bind(person);
personSpeaks('hello');  // Output: "Charlie says hello"

Key Differences

  • Invocation: call and apply invoke the function immediately. bind returns a new function.
  • Arguments: call accepts an argument list, apply accepts a single array of arguments, and bind can accept both.


Understanding call, apply, and bind is essential for manipulating the execution context in JavaScript functions. call and apply are useful for invoking functions with a controlled value of this, differing only in how they handle arguments. bind, on the other hand, is used for setting the this value in a new function that can be executed later. By mastering these methods, you gain greater flexibility and control in your JavaScript code.