So I don't know how to make getopts so that it takes every positional parameter after the argument.

What I mean by this, is the following: this is my example code:

while getopts 'a:b:' thing_here; do
        case $thing_here in
                a) part_1="${OPTARG}" ;;
                b) part_2="${OPTARG}" ;;
                *) echo "invalid option, quitting"
                        exit 1 ;;

echo "part 1 = ${part_1}"
echo "part 2 = ${part_2}"

Now what I want is the following: Input:

$: ./example_script.sh -a asd qwe zxc -b dfg 213


part 1 = asd qwe zxc
part 2 = dfg 213

But what I actually get, is the following:

part 1 = asd
part 2 =

Now I know I can do what I want to do here by enclosing the arguments as such:

$: ./example_script.sh -a 'asd qwe zxc' -b 'dfg 213'

But what I'm trying to find, is how to do this within the script and getopts itself, without having to put the quotes myself (easier for some automation).


1 Answer 1


If you don't want to enclose the args in quotes (the simplest and most robust solution), then you can't use getopts, and you have to hack something together like:

declare -A args
for arg; do
    case $arg in
        "-a") key=part_1 ;;
        "-b") key=part_2 ;;
        *)  [[ -n $key ]] || { echo "unexpected argument" >&2; exit 1; }
            args[$key]="${args[$key]}$arg "
# turn the array keys into variables
for key in "${!args[@]}"; do declare "$key=${args[$key]% }"; done
echo "part 1 => $part_1"
echo "part 2 => $part_2"

With your requirements, you cannot use getopt either. Assuming you have GNU getopt, watch what happens:

$ set --  -a asd qwe zxc -b dfg 213
$ getopt -o a:b: -- "$@"
 -a 'asd' -b 'dfg' -- 'qwe' 'zxc' '213'

Only the first word after the option is acquired as the option's argument.

I repeat, take the easy route and ensure the arguments are quoted.

  • Is there any other solution? I looked for a bit, and 'getopt' seems to be an older, but more powerful tool. I don't know if it can achieve this, but if it can, I might start learning it.
    – user323587
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 19:56
  • Look for the getopt example file on your system, it's very instructive: locate getopt-parse.bash Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 21:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .