Oct 24, 2023 3 min read

How to Fix “integer expression expected” Error in Bash?

Fix the integer expression expected error in bash with our steep-by-step tutorial. It refers to a expression or operation that involves only integer values.

Fix “integer expression expected” Error in Bash
Table of Contents


Before we start talking about how to fix integer expression expected error in bash, let's briefly understand-What is an Integer Expression ?

An integer expression refers to a mathematical expression or operation that involves only integer values. In computing and programming, an integer is a whole number without any decimal or fractional part.

When writing Bash scripts or working with numerical expressions in Bash, you may encounter the error message "integer expression expected." This error occurs when a non-integer value or unexpected syntax is used in an arithmetic expression.

The most popular programming language for interacting with the Linux environment is Bash. It supports all fundamental data-types for variables, enabling operations like variable comparison and output generation.

This tutorial will provide steps to fix this error and ensure your arithmetic expressions are properly evaluated in Bash. We will also address a few FAQs on how to fix integer expression expected error in bash.

Reason: Incorrect Use of Comparison Operator

Invalid bash syntax, such as using a non-integer value instead of an integer while comparing them, is the cause of the error. The "eq" operator is used in the following script to compare two strings and determine whether they are equal or not, but this comparison operator is incorrect. Since only integer values can be represented by the "eq," "lt," and "gt" types of operators, the error "integer expression expected" will be shown:

if [ "$string1" -eq "$string2" ]
echo "Strings Are Equal"

Save the script, then execute it in the terminal:

bash script.sh

The line with the error was "integer expression expected."

Solution: Utilize the Correct Comparison Operator

Use the proper Bash syntax and integer values instead of non-integer values where necessary to resolve this problem. In this instance, correcting the issue involves comparing the two strings using the comparison operator.

OperatorsScenarios to use
-eq, -lt, -gt, -ge, -le, -neUse these operators to compare operands, such as “integer.
=, !=These operators are used when comparing operands that are “string.” 

In order to compare the string in the script, the "-eq" operator should be swapped out with the "=" operator in accordance with the preceding table. Let's apply this into our script and see what happens:

if [ "$string1"="$string2" ]
echo "Strings Are Equal"

Save the edited script, then close the file.

Use the bash command on the terminal to execute the script:

bash script.sh

Both strings are equal, and the error has been fixed.

FAQs on Fixing "integer expression expected" Error in Bash

Which Bash commands are affected by the "integer expression expected" error?

The "integer expression expected" error can occur with commands such as let, (( )) (double parentheses), arithmetic expansions ($(( ))), and the expr command when evaluating arithmetic expressions.

How can I resolve the "integer expression expected" error?

To fix the "integer expression expected" error, review your arithmetic expressions and ensure that they involve integer values or expressions that evaluate to integers.

What are some techniques for handling non-integer variable values in arithmetic expressions? 

To handle non-integer variable values, you can use techniques like command substitution ($( )), parameter substitution (${ }), or the let command to convert the variable value to an integer before using it in an arithmetic expression.

How can I validate if a value is an integer in Bash? 

In Bash, you can use conditional statements and tests to validate if a value is an integer. Some techniques include using regex pattern matching or checking if the value has leading zeros, decimal points, or non-numeric characters.

How can I enable extended arithmetic in Bash? 

To enable extended arithmetic in Bash, use the shopt command with the -s option followed by extglob. This enables extended pattern matching syntax, which can be useful for more complex arithmetic expressions.

What are some common debugging techniques for resolving the error? 

To debug the "integer expression expected" error, you can use echo statements to print variable values or intermediate results within the arithmetic expression.

Are there any best practices for writing and debugging arithmetic expressions in Bash? 

Some best practices for writing and debugging arithmetic expressions in Bash include assigning proper default values to variables, using defensive coding techniques to handle potential errors, and thoroughly testing arithmetic expressions with different input values.


If the incorrect bash syntax is used, such as non-integer values instead of an integer, the "integer expression expected" error appears. Use the proper bash syntax for integer and non-integer values, as the -eq, -lt, -gt, -ge, -le, and -ne operators need integer operands to compare. This will solve the issue. While, the "=" and "!=" operators demand the comparison of both string operands.

This tutorial has discussed the cause and solution of the error "integer expression expected" in the bash script.

If you have any queries, please leave a comment below and we’ll be happy to respond to them.

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