For loops

For loops are simple loops which helps us iterate over an iterable variable by using an index. There are two types of for loops - a simple (C style) for loop, and a foreach loop.

For loop

For loops are very useful when we need to iterate over an array and refer to member of the array using a changing index. For example, let's say we have a list of odd numbers. To print them out, we need to refer to each item individually. The code we write in the for loop can use the index i, which changes in every iteration of the for loop.

$odd_numbers = [1,3,5,7,9];
for ($i = 0; $i < count($odd_numbers); $i=$i+1) {
    $odd_number = $odd_numbers[$i];
    echo $odd_number . "\n";

The first line of the for loop defines 3 parts:

  • The initialization statement - in our case, we initialize the iterator variable $i to 0.
  • The condition statement - this statement gets evaluated in every loop. The loop stops when this condition is unmet. This will happen when the iterator variable $i will be larger than the length of the array.
  • The increment statement - this statement is executed every iteration to increase the index variable by the needed amount. Usually, we will increase $i by 1. There are two shorter ways of increasing a variable by 1 as well. We can use $i+=1 or $i++ as well.

Foreach loop

The foreach loop iterates over an iterable element such as an array or an object, providing the members in a specific variable one at a time.

For example, let's say we want to create a list of all the odd numbers between 1 and 10, and print them out one by one, like in the previous example. This time, we will be using the foreach statement instead of a regular for loop wih an iterator variable. Instead of using the iterator variable as an index to the array, we get the item from the array directly into the $odd_number variable.

$odd_numbers = [1,3,5,7,9];
foreach ($odd_numbers as $odd_number) {
  echo $odd_number . "\n";

When iterating over arrays with keys, we can use the following syntax:

$phone_numbers = [
  "Alex" => "415-235-8573",
  "Jessica" => "415-492-4856",

foreach ($phone_numbers as $name => $number) {
  echo "$name's number is $number.\n";


Print out all numbers inside the array, one by one, using the \n newline character sequence to separate between results.