Every object is linked to a prototype object from which it inherits properties. The objects created from object literals ({}) are automatically linked to Object.prototype, which is an object that comes standard with JavaScript.

When a JavaScript interpreter (a module in your browser) tries to find a property, that you want to retrieve, like in the following code:

let adult = { age: 26 },
  retrievedProperty = adult.age;
// The line above

First, the interpreter looks through every property the object itself has. For example, adult has only one own property — age. But besides that one, it actually has a few more properties, which were inherited from Object.prototype.

let stringRepresentation = adult.toString();
// the variable has value of '[object Object]'

The toString is an Object.prototype's property, which was inherited. It has a value of a function, which returns a string representation of the object. If you want it to return a more meaningful representation, then you can override it. Simply add a new property to the adult object.

adult.toString = function () {
  return "I'm " + this.age;

If you call the toString function now, the interpreter will find the new property in the object itself and stop.

Thus the interpreter retrieves the first property it will find on the way from the object itself and further through its prototype.

To set your own object as a prototype instead of the default Object.prototype, you can invoke Object.create as follows:

let child = Object.create(adult);
/* This way of creating objects lets us easily replace the default Object.prototype with the one we want. In this case, the child's prototype is the adult object. */
child.age = 8;
/* Previously, child didn't have its own age property, and the interpreter had to look further to the child's prototype to find it.
 Now, when we set the child's own age, the interpreter will not go further.
 Note: adult's age is still 26. */
let stringRepresentation = child.toString();
// The value is "I'm 8".
/* Note: we have not overridden the child's toString property, thus the adult's method will be invoked. If adult did not have toString property, then Object.prototype's toString method would be invoked, and we would get "[object Object]" instead of "I'm 8" */

The child's prototype is adult, whose prototype is Object.prototype. This sequence of prototypes is called a prototype chain.

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