Grasp mutating function in Swift under three minutes!

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The understanding of the mutating function depends on the understanding of reference and value types. In Swift, The properties of value types cannot be changed within its instance methods by default. You need to use a mutating keyword in the instance method to change the properties of a value type. The mutating function has the power to mutate the values of the properties.

The reference type (for example class) will share a single instance of the object and pass the same reference to a function/object. The value type (for example struct) will make a copy of it and passes only the value. You can also read Value and reference types in Swift -A deep dive for better understanding.

Why does a struct need mutation?

You need to use the mutating function if you will change any state contained within the struct. Calling a mutating function returns a new struct in place as Struct is immutable. It works the same as passing an inout parameter to a function. The mutating keyword lets callers know that the method is going to make the value change.

struct Person {
    var firstName = "Jacob"
    var lastName = "Ralf"

    // Here, we don't need mutating function because
    // it does not change the variable of the struct
    func fullName() -> String {
        return firstName + " " + lastName

    // This function actually changes firstName and lastName
    // of the Person struct. Here, we need to use mutating
    // keyword because it is changing the variables in struct.
    mutating func capitalizeName() {
        firstName = firstName.uppercased()
        lastName = lastName.uppercased()

// let person = Person()
// person.capitalizeName()
// Error: Cannot use mutating member on immutable 
// value: 'person' is a 'let' constant

var person = Person()

// Output

Calling a mutating functions on constants is not possible(e.g. let person = Person()). Because that would be the same thing as trying to assign the constant to a new value. Mutating functions can only be performed on variables.

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✍️ Written by Ishtiak Ahmed

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