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Java - Using Continue and Return

In this tutorial, you will learn about Java continue and return statements.

Using continue in Java

The continue statement does such an action. In while and do-while loops, a continue statement effects control to be transferred directly to the conditional expression that controls the loop.

Here is a sample program that uses continue to cause two numbers to be printed on each line:

// Demonstrate continue.
class Continue {
public static void main(String args[]) {
for(int i=0; i<10; i++) {
System.out.print(i + " ");
if (i%2 == 0) continue;

This code uses the % operator to verify if i is even. If it is, the loop runs without printing a newline. Here is the output from this program:

01 23 45 67 89

As with the break statement, continue may define a label to explain which enclosing loop to continue. Here is a sample program that uses continue to print a triangular multiplication table for 0 through 9:

// Using continue with a label.
class ContinueLabel {
public static void main(String args[]) {
outer: for (int i=0; i<10; i++) {
for(int j=0; j<10; j++) {
if(j > i) {
continue outer;
System.out.print(" " + (i * j));

The continue statement in this example exits the loop counting j and continues with the next iteration of the loop counting i.

Here is the output of this program:

02 4
036 9
0 4 8 12 16
0 5 10 15 20 25
0 6 12 18 24 30 36
0 7 14 21 28 35 42 49
0 8 16 24 32 40 48 56 64
0 9 18 27 36 45 54 63 72 81

Valid uses of continue are rare. One cause is that Java provides a rich set of loop statements which fit most applications. Nevertheless, for those special circumstances in which early iteration is needed, the continue statement provides a structured way to achieve it.

Using return in Java

The last control statement is return. The return statement is employed to explicitly return from a method. That is, it initiates program control to transfer back to the caller of the method. As such, it is named as a jump statement.

The following sample illustrates this point.

Here, return makes execution to return to the Java run-time system because it is the run-time system that calls main( ):

// Demonstrate return.
class Return {
public static void main(String args[]) {
boolean t = true;
System.out.println("Before the return.");
if(t) return; // return to caller
System.out.println("This won't execute.");

The result of this program is shown here:

Before the return.

As you can see, the final println( ) statement is not executed. As soon as return is executed, control passes back to the caller.

One last point: In the above program, the if(t) statement is essential. Without it, the Java compiler would flag an “unreachable code” error since the compiler would know that the last println( ) statement would never be executed. To counter this error, the if statement is used here to trick the compiler for the sake of this explanation.