In the process of writing a shell script, I ran into an issue with the following if/else statement that falls somewhere in the middle of the script:

if [ $act -eq "add" ]
    read - "add or update: " $comm
    git commit -m "$comm $file"
    git commit -m "$act $file"

The returning error being:

./gitup: line 13: [: add: integer expression expected

and then proceeds with the rest of the script. How can I have the if segment evaluate/compare the variable to a string input rather than an integer; a different error was required when using "!=" among a couple of other things I tried.

2 Answers 2


Something like this:

if [[ $act = "add" ]]
    echo good
    echo not good

-eq is for number comparison, use = for string comparison

  • Thanks. I had tried that, and the script would free, requiring a keystroke, but just found it was caused by an unrelated syntax error further down, so this worked perfectly. Thanks for the help. Jan 30, 2013 at 4:57
  • 5
    @josephmarhee: Note that the [[]] test is a Bash specific construct, and this example works just as well with the POSIX [] as used in the question. If the interpreter is explicitly given as #!/bin/bash or similar, the [[]] can be used without issues (and it is a bit faster than the alternative in Bash, I believe - not that it should be a bottle neck anyway), otherwise one should stick with []. If one doesn't need Bash specifics at all, the script will run a bit faster in e.g. Dash. And POSIX ensures inherent portability. Jan 30, 2013 at 9:28

This method would also work. Very similar to @Guru's answer but removes the need for double square brackets.

if [ "$act" == "add" ]
echo "Good!"
      echo "Not good!"

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