What is the Difference between Enums and Classes?

Java is a dynamic programming language that offers developers the ability to create efficient and organized code. Among the language’s many features, enums and classes are two of the most used constructs. While both provide a way to define custom types in Java, there are distinct differences between the two that developers should understand.

What is Enums?

It is a type that defines a collection of values and is known as an enum (enumeration). In many programming languages, enums are utilized for defining a group of constant values that can be utilized as alternatives to numeric or string literals.

Enums can also have methods and fields just like classes, but they cannot be instantiated using the “new” keyword. They are typically used to define a fixed set of options or states, where each option has a meaningful name and is distinct from the others. This makes code that uses enums more readable and less error-prone than code that uses raw strings or numbers.


Here is another example of a basic enum in Java:

public enum Season {



In this example, we have defined an enum called Season with four constants: SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, and WINTER. Each constant is separated by a comma, and they are all defined within the curly braces {}.

What are Classes?

A class, on the other hand, is a blueprint for creating objects that have a certain set of properties and methods. Classes are utilized for defining the behavior of objects, and each instance of a class is a unique object. Classes can also be utilized to define static methods and fields, which belong to the class or any specific instance. Static methods and fields are accessed without an instance being created.


Here is an example of a class that represents a difference between two numbers:

public class Difference {
  private int num1;
  private int num2;
  public Difference(int num1, int num2) {
    this.num1 = num1;
    this.num2 = num2;
  public int calculate() {
    return num1 - num2;

In this example, we have defined a class called Difference with two private instance variables: num1 and num2. Now, we have also defined a constructor that takes in two arguments and initializes the instance variables, and a method called calculate that returns the difference between num1 and num2.

What is the Difference between Enums and Classes?

The main difference between enums and classes is their purpose and usage. Enums are used to define a set of named values that are distinct from each other, while classes are utilized for defining the behavior and properties of objects. Enums are typically used to make code more readable and less error-prone by replacing raw strings or numbers with meaningful names. Classes are utilized for defining the structure and have many instances with different states.

Additionally, enums are typically used in situations where a fixed set of options or states are needed, while classes are used in situations where objects with varying states and behaviors are needed. Enums are also usually simpler and more lightweight than classes, since they cannot be instantiated or extended, and do not have as many features as classes.


The difference between an enum and a class is that an enum represents a set of named constants, while a class represents a blueprint for creating objects with properties and behaviors. Both allow users to encapsulate data and behavior into a single unit. Understanding these differences is crucial for writing efficient and effective Java code.

About the author

Syed Minhal Abbas

I hold a master's degree in computer science and work as an academic researcher. I am eager to read about new technologies and share them with the rest of the world.