Converting Space-Separated Strings to Arrays in Bash Scripts



In bash scripting, there are times when you need to process a string of space-separated values. A common scenario is when a script receives a string as an argument and needs to handle each word separately. Let’s explore how to convert a space-separated string into an array.

The Solution:

Here’s a simple bash script to do this:


# Convert the first argument into an array
declare -a PARAMS="( $1 )"

# Accessing elements from the array
# The first element is at index 0
# The second element, if present, is at index 1

# Add more elements as needed


  • `declare -a PARAMS=”( $1 )”`: This line declares an array named `PARAMS` and initializes it with the words from the first script argument (`$1`).
  • `PARAM1=”${PARAMS[0]}”` and `PARAM2=”${PARAMS[1]}”`: These lines assign the first and second elements of the array to `PARAM1` and `PARAM2` respectively.

Example Usage:

Suppose you call your script like this: `./ “apple orange banana”`. The `PARAM1` will be ‘apple’, and `PARAM2` will be ‘orange’.

Handling Errors and Edge Cases:

What happens if the script is run without any arguments or with a single word? It’s important to handle such cases to prevent unexpected behavior.

Conclusion and Further Reading:

This simple technique is handy for numerous scenarios in bash scripting. For more advanced bash scripting techniques, consider exploring other bash related articles in our blog.