I have 2 variables in bash. Using test i found out that one of them is integer and other one is string. I want to compare them and see if they are equal. I tried the following options.

if [ "$a" -eq "$b" ]

if [[ "$a" -eq "$b" ]]

if [ "$a" = "$b" ]

if [[ "$a" = "$b" ]]

I tried converting the string variable to integer as


but I got the following error

+0")syntax error: invalid arithmetic operator (error token is "

None of them are providing me the expected result. Please tell me what I am doing wrong?

I have multiple CSV files. The second field of the last row in each of these files will contain the number of rows in that file. I have to get the row count from the file and compare it against the actual number of rows in the file. If they are same, then only I have to process.

ROW_COUNT=`grep -c ^ /tmp/file1.csv` --This is the number

LAST_LINE=`tail -n 1 /tmp/file1.csv`
ACTUAL_ROW_COUNT=`echo ${LAST_LINE} | cut -d "," -f 2` --This is the string

--now i am comparing these two numbers to see if they are same.
if [[ ${ROW_COUNT} == "${ACTUAL_ROW_COUNT}" ]]; then -- Here it is breaking
  • 2
    -eq will compare them as integers, = will compare them as strings. You don't need to convert the string first.
    – Barmar
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 5:07
  • 2
    I can't reproduce that error. What was the original value of $a, and what is the exact statement you used?
    – Barmar
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 5:10
  • 1
    What's the difference between your third and fourth options? Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 6:48

2 Answers 2


The following if statement worked for me.

if [[ ${a} = *"${b}"* ]]; then
  • 1
    Why so complicated?  This will report TRUE if $a contains $b; e.g., a=foo42bar and b=42, or a=1942 and b=94. Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 6:48

Have you tried with (())? it is used for numbers instead of characters. So the comparison would be:

 if (( "$a" == "$b" ))

Mind the double == it is important.

  • I tried this. It did not work for me.
    – stany
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 9:38
  • @stany could you echo the values before the if? what values do $a and $b have before the if loop?
    – YoMismo
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 9:47
  • i echoed both values. both have same value. In my example, ACTUAL_ROW_COUNT is string. I tried ACTUAL_ROW_COUNT=expr $ACTUAL_ROW_COUNT + 0 , but it gives me "expr: non-numeric argument" error.
    – stany
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 10:05
  • @stany I must be missing something... Is the problem that ACTUAL_ROW_COUNT sometimes returns a number and sometimes returns a string? in that case, you have to process that variable before you compare it.
    – YoMismo
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 10:19
  • 1
    Weird, if I do a x="03 " and after that I do a echo $(($x+1)) I am returned 4. I guess what you have after the number is some special character. Anyway, I'm glad you solved it.
    – YoMismo
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 10:43

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