Functions VS Methods in Golang: Understanding the Differences

Updated on July 5, 2023

We use functions and methods to isolate a block of code and execute them multiple times. Both of them will also help you to write code once and use it in many places throughout your application.

They do the same thing but there are a few differences between functions and methods in Golang. Because of those differences, they have different names.

Functions and methods in Go differ in their association and purpose. Functions are standalone blocks of code, not connected to any specific object, while methods are associated with types or structs, operating on their data.

Functions have a broader scope, suitable for generic operations, whereas methods enable type-specific behavior and access to internal data.

To write effective and well-structured Go code, it is important to understand these differences properly. In this post, we will discuss everything about "Functions vs Methods in Golang" so that you can choose them in different situations.

Function in Golang

A function in Go is a self-contained block of code that performs a specific task. can take input parameters and return values.

So, imagine you have this function called add. It takes two numbers, adds them together, and gives you the result back.

          func add(a, b int) int {
    return a + b

add(5, 10)

This add function works on its own. It isn't connected with any other type. You can call it with 2 numbers, and it will give you the sum of those two numbers.

Also Read: Deep Dive into Variable Scopes in Golang: Learn with Examples

Method in Golang

A method in Go is a function that is associated with a specific type or struct. It operates on the data of the type it is associated with and can access its internal fields.

Methods are defined with a receiver parameter, which specifies the type the method is connected with.

          type Circle struct {
    radius float64

func (c Circle) area() float64 {
    return math.Pi * c.radius * c.radius

c := Circle{radius: 5}


In this example, area is a method associated with the Circle type. It calculates the area of a circle based on its radius.

To call a method, you need to create an instance of the Circle type and use dot notation to invoke the area() method.

Differences Between Functions and Methods in Golang

You have understood the main difference between functions and methods in Golang by seeing their examples. You can declare a function independently whereas you have to declare a method with a struct.

These are all the main differences between functions and methods in Go:

  • Association: Functions are not associated with any specific type or struct. Methods are associated with a particular type or struct and operate on its data.
  • Syntax: Functions are defined using the func keyword followed by the function name. Methods are described with a receiver parameter.
  • Access to Data: Functions do not have direct access to the internal fields or data of types. Methods can access and operate on the data of the type they are associated with.
  • Invocation: Functions are invoked by simply calling their name and passing the required arguments. Methods are invoked using dot notation on an instance of the associated type, followed by the method name and any required arguments.
  • Purpose and Use: Functions provide a way to encapsulate reusable blocks of code and are suitable for generic operations. Methods enable behavior specific to a particular type and allow you to follow object-oriented programming concepts.
  • Flexibility: Functions are flexible and can be defined at the package level, making them globally accessible. Methods are bound to the associated type and can only be invoked on instances of that type.

Understanding these differences is essential for choosing the appropriate approach when designing and implementing your Go code.

Also Read: How to Use Environment Variables in Golang From .env Files

How to Choose Between Functions and Methods in Go

We declare functions and methods in Golang differently. Because of their differences, the choice between using a function or a method in Go depends on the specific scenario and requirements of your code.

Use a Function:

  • Generic Operations: If you need to perform a task that is not tied to a specific type or does not require access to internal data, a function is appropriate. Functions can be defined at the package level and can be used globally.
  • Utility Functions: When creating utility functions that provide standard functionality across different types, it's often better to use functions rather than methods. This allows for code reusability and avoids the need to define similar methods for multiple types.
  • Standalone Logic: If the logic you need to implement does not involve a state or data specific to a type, using a function is suitable. Functions can encapsulate independent operations.

Use a Method:

  • Object-Oriented Operations: If you want to define behavior specific to a type or struct, methods are the appropriate choice. Methods can access and manipulate the internal data of the associated type, allowing for encapsulation and data abstraction.
  • Data Manipulation: When working with types that have internal fields or data that require modification or access, methods are useful. Methods enable you to work directly with the data of the type, making it easier to manage and manipulate.
  • Code Organization: Methods can help organize your code by keeping related functionality close to the relevant types. This can improve code readability and maintainability, especially in larger projects.

Go supports both functions and methods. You have to choose them based on your needs. It's common to have a mix of functions and methods in a Go codebase, with functions for generic operations and methods for type-specific behavior.

Also Read: Mastering Constant in Golang: Declare and Use It Like a Pro


We've uncovered the key differences between functions and methods in Golang with examples and gained a deeper understanding of when to use each.

This helps you to identify their use cases in your Go project. By choosing the right approach, you can strike a balance between generic operations and type-specific behavior, resulting in cleaner, more readable, and maintainable code.

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