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A Guide to React useState for Beginners - 2024

/ 9 min read

The useState hook is an important part of React and helps you keep your code organized and simple. It is a built-in feature of React that helps to manage state, or data, without having to use classes.

So, what exactly is the useState Hook?

Essentially, the useState Hook allows you to create a variable inside a function component—a piece of code that modifies one or more values in the application state we call “state.”

So, for example, if our application has a list of items, we can use the useState Hook to add a new item to this list. The same goes for modifying existing items in our list or deleting them.

In short, the React useState Hook makes it easier for developers to maintain complex application states by:

  • Allowing them to keep track of the changes made to their state in an organized fashion.

  • Making it easier for them to update their app’s data in real time as changes are made.

  • Allowing them to access their app’s data from any part of their code.

What Does the useState Hook Do?

Curious about the useState hook in React?

It’s an incredibly powerful tool - and quite simple to use, once you understand how it works. In a nutshell, useState lets you easily manage the state or data of your application. It’s a way for you to store and update information in your components.

Let’s put this into context.

Imagine that you’re building an app that displays a random phrase when users click a button. You can use useState to store the phrase, and when users click the button your app can update the displayed phrase with a new one.

This is just one example of how useState can be used - it’s a versatile tool that can help declutter your code and make it more organized.

To start using the useState hook, all you need to do is write this line of code:

const [dataName, setDataName] = useState(initialValue).

The single parameter (the dataName) lets you name your state variable and set its initial value, so that your app has access to this data every time it renders.

In other words, React’s useState function lets you handle virtually any kind of state data with ease - giving you more control over how and when data is managed in your components!

When to Use the useState Hook

So, when would you use the useState hook?

The useState hook can be used to store bits of data in your React application.

It’s perfect for storing data that is going to change, such as a user’s name or a boolean value that indicates whether something is true or false.

It’s also useful if you want to keep track of data that’s going to be constantly updated, like a shopping list.

The best part about the useState hook is that it’s versatile, and you can use it in almost all types of React components and applications.

Here are some examples of situations where you might want to utilize the useState hook:

  1. A functional component in which you want to keep track of the user’s input

  2. A class component in which you need to update a variable’s value over time

  3. A higher-order component – which wraps other components – in which you need to store some values

  4. An application with a dynamic user interface, such as an e-commerce store or blogging platform

Remember: if you’re looking for an easy way to store and update data in your React application, the useState hook is exactly what you need!

How to Use the useState Hook

When you want to introduce state values in your React apps, you use the powerful useState() hook.

This is a built-in Hook that lets you manage and update state values in your function components.

You can think of useState as a way to add mutable data to a function component and to make that data accessible across multiple React components.

Using the useState hook gives you more flexibility than class-based solutions and makes it easier to separate code into small isolated units of functionality.

Using the useState Hook is pretty straightforward.

First, you need to declare the initial state value in the parameter of the useState function (you can also pass an object if you want).

Then, call this same function within your component like so:

const [stateValue, setStateValue] = useState('initialValue')

This will then return two pieces of information:

  1. a current state value and
  2. a function that updates this value (this is called the setter).

Once we have this, we can access our state with our stateValue and modify it using the setState setter.

To access or change our state within our React app, all we need to do is call these two functions wherever necessary.

Pretty simple! Plus, this same concept applies to objects or arrays too!

Working With Arrays and Objects in useState

Now that you know how to work with primitive values, let’s learn how useState helps us manage more complex data types like arrays and objects.

This is an important skill to have when building React applications!

When working with arrays and objects in useState, we don’t actually update the existing state directly.

Instead, we make a copy of it using array/object methods like map(), slice(), or Object.assign().

Let’s explore how to do this step-by-step:

Updating Array State With useState

To update an array state using useState, you should make a copy of the existing state and update it with the new values.

import { useState } from 'react';
function App() {
const [items, setItems] = useState([]);
const handleClick = () => {
const newItem = 'Item ' + (items.length + 1);
setItems([...items, newItem]);
return (
<button onClick={handleClick}>Add Item</button>
{ => <li key={item}>{item}</li>)}

Above, we start with an empty array as the initial state using useState. We define a handleClick function that creates a new item with a name based on the current length of the items array, and then updates the state using setItems.

The spread operator is used to create a new array with the existing items and the new item added to the end.

Finally, we render the items array using the map function.

Updating Object State With useState

Similarly to updating an array state with useState, updating an object state also requires making a copy of the existing state and updating it with the new values.

import { useState } from 'react';
function App() {
const [person, setPerson] = useState({ name: 'John', age: 30 });
const handleClick = () => {
setPerson({ ...person, age: person.age + 1 });
return (
<p>{} is {person.age} years old</p>
<button onClick={handleClick}>Increase Age</button>

In this example, we start with an object containing the name and age properties as the initial state using useState. We define a handleClick function that updates the state using setPerson.

The spread operator is used to create a new object with the existing properties and the updated age property.

Finally, we render the person object properties in a paragraph tag and a button to increase the age.

Common Problems When Using useState

Using the React useState hook can be tricky, but don’t worry!

Here are some of the most common issues that beginners have when using useState, and how to fix them.

Managing Multiple State Variables

If you have multiple state variables, managing them can be confusing. If your state variables rely on each other’s values, it can quickly become a mess when you need to update them.

The best approach is to have one object that stores all the data in one place. This way, when you need to make changes, it will easier to keep track of your state variables.

import { useState } from 'react';
function App() {
const [formData, setFormData] = useState({ name: '', email: '', password: '' });
const handleInputChange = (event) => {
const { name, value } =;
setFormData({ ...formData, [name]: value });
const handleSubmit = (event) => {
// Submit form data
return (
<form onSubmit={handleSubmit}>
<input type="text" name="name" value={} onChange={handleInputChange} />
<input type="email" name="email" value={} onChange={handleInputChange} />
<input type="password" name="password" value={formData.password} onChange={handleInputChange} />
<button type="submit">Submit</button>

In this example, we have a form that collects the user’s name, email, and password. Instead of managing these state variables separately, we use an object called formData to store all the data in one place.

We define a handleInputChange function that updates the formData object with the new values when the user types something into the input fields.

The handleSubmit function is called when the user submits the form, and it can access all the form data from the formData object.

Not Initializing State Variable Values

The React useState hook requires an initial value in the first argument when declaring a state variable.

When using useState in a component, if you don’t provide this initial value, it will cause an error and your component won’t render.

Make sure that your useState statement always includes an appropriate initial value for your state variable.

Mixing up State with Other Variables

Using the React useState hook does not require any particular naming conventions for your variables – however it is important not to mix up your state variables with other kinds of variables within a component.

If you want to stay organized and help other developers understand the code – especially if they are new to the project – try using uppercase letters or some type of prefixing on your state names so they stand out from regular functions and variables, like so: `‘USESTATE_VARIABLE_NAME’“.

By avoiding these common errors with the React useState hook, you will be able save yourself time and trouble in the future


You might have a few questions about useState when starting out with React. Well, don’t worry! Here are some of the most common questions you may have answered.

Is useState async in React?

No, useState is not async in React. Essentially, useState is just a special function that allows you to store and access state information within your component. It’s not actually doing anything beyond this basic task—no asynchronous operations are going on here.

Does useState run every render?

Yes, useState does run every time the component re-renders. This means you should be careful to avoid any unnecessary re-renders from your component, as this could potentially cause performance issues.

Can I have two useState?

Absolutely! In fact, it’s recommend that you keep all your state related functionality within one component to avoid any confusion—this makes for a much more organized codebase in the long run.

Just remember that each useState call creates its own piece of state and should be treated independently from any other pieces of information stored in the component.


In conclusion, React’s useState hook is a great tool for managing both simple and complex state values in your React projects.

Though there are some caveats, with a solid understanding of the basics, useState can be used to create powerful user interfaces that are efficient, easily readable and maintainable.

As you become more comfortable with useState and React, you’ll be able to utilize it more and more to create amazing apps.

So don’t be afraid of useState, give it a try and you’ll be surprised how quickly it becomes second nature.