What Is Ifs Bash

Shell Programming

When it comes to working with the command line in Unix-based systems, one tool that is incredibly powerful and versatile is the Bash shell. But what exactly is “if” in Bash? In this article, I will provide an in-depth explanation of “if” statements in the Bash scripting language.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that “if” is a keyword in Bash that allows you to perform conditional checks. With “if” statements, you can execute different pieces of code based on whether a certain condition is true or false.

Let me give you a simple example to illustrate how “if” statements work in Bash:

if [ condition ]; then
    # Code to execute if the condition is true
    # Code to execute if the condition is false

Within the square brackets, you specify the condition that you want to evaluate. This condition can be a comparison between two values, the result of a command, or any other expression that evaluates to either true or false.

For example, let’s say we want to check if a file named “myfile.txt” exists in the current directory:

if [ -f myfile.txt ]; then
    echo "The file exists"
    echo "The file does not exist"

In this example, the “-f” flag is used to check if the file exists. If it does exist, the script will print “The file exists.” If it doesn’t exist, it will print “The file does not exist.”

One thing to note is that the semicolon “;” at the end of each line is used to separate multiple commands on a single line. This can be useful to keep your code concise, but it’s not mandatory. You can also write each command on a separate line if you prefer.

Another important aspect of “if” statements is the use of “else” and “elif” clauses. The “else” clause allows you to specify a block of code to be executed if the condition is false. The “elif” clause, short for “else if,” allows you to specify additional conditions to be evaluated if the previous conditions are false.

Let’s see an example that includes an “elif” clause:

if [ $age -lt 18 ]; then
    echo "You are a minor"
elif [ $age -ge 18 ] && [ $age -lt 65 ]; then
    echo "You are an adult"
    echo "You are a senior citizen"

In this example, we are checking the value of the variable “age.” If the age is less than 18, it will print “You are a minor.” If the age is between 18 and 65, it will print “You are an adult.” Otherwise, it will print “You are a senior citizen.”

“If” statements in Bash are not limited to simple conditions. You can also use logical operators such as “&&” (logical AND) and “||” (logical OR) to combine multiple conditions.

For example, let’s say we want to check if a file named “myfile.txt” exists and it is readable:

if [ -f myfile.txt ] && [ -r myfile.txt ]; then
    echo "The file exists and is readable"
    echo "The file does not exist or is not readable"

In this example, both conditions must be true in order for the first block of code to be executed. If either condition is false, the “else” block will be executed.

As you can see, “if” statements in Bash provide a powerful way to perform conditional checks and execute different pieces of code based on the result. They allow you to automate tasks and make your scripts more intelligent.


In this article, we explored the concept of “if” statements in Bash and how they can be used to perform conditional checks. We learned about the syntax of “if” statements, including the use of “else” and “elif” clauses, as well as logical operators. “If” statements are a fundamental part of Bash scripting and are essential for creating dynamic and responsive scripts.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced Bash user, understanding “if” statements is crucial for mastering the art of shell scripting. So go ahead, experiment with different conditions and take advantage of the power of “if” in Bash!