Java this keyword with Examples & Uses

This tutorial explains about this keyword in java which is quite used in java programs. The tutorial explains different details of this keyword like what this keyword is, use of this keyword in method and constructor, java programs of this keyword etc.

What is this keyword in Java

In java, this is a keyword which holds the reference of the current object - the object whose method or constructor is being called. In other words, this keyword refers/holds the reference of the same object which invoked the method or constructor.

As we know, in java an instance method or constructor is called by an object, we use this keyword to refer the same object inside that method or constructor. Using this keyword we can access the members of that object inside the method or constructor.

The keyword this is a reference variable of non static type, it can be used inside instance method, constructor or block only. Like other non static members, it can not be used inside static method or static block, doing so will result in compilation error. The syntax of using this keyword is : // To access the name instance variable of current object 
 this.printDetail() // To call the printDetail method of current object
 this(String name) // To call string parameterized constructor for current object

this keyword program in Java

  class Person {  
    String name;
    int age;
    public Person(String n, int a) { = n;
      this.age = a;
    void printDetail() {
      System.out.println("Reference of this keyword = "+this);
      System.out.println("Detail using this keyword, name = "" age = "+this.age);
    public static void main(String [] args) {
      Person person = new Person("Rahul", 20);  
      System.out.println("Reference of person object = "+person);
      System.out.println("Detail using object, name = "" age = "+person.age);
      Person person2 = new Person("Pradeep", 22);
      System.out.println("Detail using object2, name = "" age = "+person2.age);
      System.out.println("Reference of person2 object = "+person2);


Reference of this keyword = Person@15db9742
Detail using this keyword, name = Rahul age = 20
Reference of person object = Person@15db9742
Detail using object, name = Rahul age = 20
Reference of this = Person@6d06d69c
Detail using this keyword, name = Pradeep age = 22
Detail using object2, name = Pradeep age = 22
Reference of person2 object = Person@6d06d69c

Notice the reference of object and this keyword, both are same which means this keyword refers the same object which invokes the method. Using this keyword you can refer the properties of that object, as you can see we are able to access name and age property of the object which invoked the method.

Let's understand it by the code given above. When code line Person person = new Person("Rahul", 20) get's executed, the constructor get's called, so inside the constructor this keyword will refer the person object as it invoked the constructor. Similarly when code line person.printDetail() calls the printDetial method, inside the method this keyword will point to person object as it's the one which called the method.

Is it possible to assign reference to this ?

No, doing(this = objName) so will result in compilation error.

Use of this keyword in method and constructor

One of the very common use of this keyword inside method or constructor is to access the properties of the object which invoked it. We can also invoke a method or constructor using this keyword in java.

Another good use of this keyword is to resolve instance variable and parameter name conflict/ambiguity. If an instance variable name and parameter name is same, this keyword can be used to refer the instance variable inside the method or constructor to avoid the name conflict/ambiguity.

Java program of this keyword uses inside method and constructor

  class Employee {  
    String name, address;
    int age;
    public Employee(String name, int age) {
      this(name, age, "NA"); // calling constructor
    public Employee(String name, int age, String address) {
      // refers name instance variable while using only 
      //name refers name parameter, this way we resolve name conflict. = name; 
      this.age = age;
      this.address = address;
    void printDetail() {
      System.out.println("Name = "", age = "+this.age);
      System.out.println("Address = "+this.address);
      this.checkVoterEligibility(this.age); // calling method using this keyword
    void checkVoterEligibility(int age) {
      if(age > 18) { System.out.println("You are eligible for vote"); }
      else { System.out.println("You are not eligible for vote"); }
    public static void main(String [] args) {
      Employee employee = new Employee("Rahul", 20);  
      Employee employee2 = new Employee("Pradeep", 22, "xyz");  


Name = Rahul, age = 20
Address = NA
You are eligible for vote
Name = Pradeep, age = 22
Address = xyz
You are eligible for vote

Can we call method using this keyword inside constructor ?

Yes, we can call the method from inside constructor, just use this.methodName().

Can we use this keyword to access static method or variable ?

Yes we can, but accessing static members using this keyword is not a good programming style.

Note : In java, when we call an instance method or variable without any object, java compiler internally adds this keyword for invoking that method or variable as shown in the program below :

  class Test { 
    String name; 
    void m1() { 
       System.out.println("Name = "+name);
    void n1() {  }
    public static void main(String [] args) {
      Test test = new Test();
 // While compiling above class, the compiler will add this keyword inside m1 method like below 
 void m1() { 
   System.out.println("Name = ";

Different Uses of this keyword in Java

  • The most common use of this keyword is to access the instance properties/variable of object which invokes the method or constructor.
  • If there is ambiguity between instance variables and parameters name, this keyword can be used to resolve the ambiguity inside the method/constructor.
  • We can use this keyword to call constructor inside another constructor. If calling a constructor inside another constructor, then constructor call must be the first statement inside the calling constructor.
  • It can be used to call a method from inside a method or constructor.
  • It can be passed as an argument inside a method call.
  • It can be used to return current object from a method.

How this keyword is different from normal reference variable

  • We can not assign any reference(object) to this explicitly while a normal reference variable can refer to any other reference variable of same type.
  • A normal reference variable can be created directly inside a class but this keyword can not be used outside of method, constructor or block.
  • We can not use this keyword inside static block or method but we can create normal reference variable inside static block/method.