Java final, abstract and static Modifiers

The meaning of the final, abstract and static Java modifiers can be confusing and hard to remember. Here's a brief summary:


Generally means "can't be changed".

  • final class: can't be extended (sub-classed)
  • final method: can't be overridden or hidden by sub-classes
  • final variable: can only be initialized once 


Generally means "can't be instantiated".

  • abstract class: can't be instantiated, can be extended, must be declared abstract if it contains one or more abstract methods
  • abstract method: has only a declaration with no body
  • abstract variable: not allowed


Generally means "not associated with an instance".

  • static class: only nested inner classes can be static, they are not associated with any instance of the enclosing class
  • static method: doesn't use instance variables
  • static variable: is the same across all instances of it's containing class

additional notes

  • constants: use static final as variable modifiers
  • abstract static methods are not allowed