I'm having problems working with an array in BASH. I've simplified the problem down to the following code:

#! /bin/bash

A1[0]="user1 user2 user3" 
A1[1]="user4 user5 user6"

for each in ${!A1[*]} 
        echo -n "$each "
        echo $A1[$each] 

The output is as follows:

0 user1 user2 user3[0]
1 user1 user2 user3[1]

I can't understand why each line has the [X] in it (presumably an indication of the element of the array). How can I recover both the index and the data line from the array without the index appended to it ?

  • 4
    You need braces. Try echo ${A1[$each]}. – Mikel Jun 8 '15 at 1:32
  • Thank you for this - it was spot on. If you put it as an answer I'll upvote and accept it. – davidgo Jun 8 '15 at 1:49
  • welcome. Answer posted. – Mikel Jun 8 '15 at 2:15

In bash*, you have to use braces like this:

echo ${A1[$each]}

to make [$each] a subscript into the A1 array.

Per man bash(1):

Any element of an array may be referenced using ${name[subscript]}. The braces are required to avoid conflicts with pathname expansion.

Further down, it says:

Referencing an array variable without a subscript is equivalent to referencing the array with a subscript of 0.

Which is why your original code didn't work, since the shell only sees the subscript if you use braces.


echo $A1[$each]

is equivalent to

echo ${A1[0]}[$each]

where the square brackets don't have any special meaning, so are printed as-is.

  • And in ksh, and in zsh if the KSH_ARRAYS option is set.

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