Is There a “goto” Statement in Bash

Is There a “goto” Statement in Bash?

Is There a “goto” Statement in Bash

One of the most frequently asked questions among programmers who use Bash is whether or not the language supports the “goto” statement. The “goto” statement is a control statement that transfers program control to a specific statement within the program. This statement is frequently used in programming languages such as C, C++, and Java to transfer program control from one point to another. However, does Bash support a “goto” statement? Let’s explore this question in more detail.

The Short Answer

The short answer is that Bash does support the “goto” statement, but its use is discouraged. This is because “goto” statements can make code difficult to read and maintain, as well as more difficult to debug. In the majority of cases, there are superior alternatives to “goto” statements.

Alternatives to “goto” Statement in Bash

Is There a “goto” Statement in Bash

As stated previously, there are superior alternatives to the “goto” statement in Bash. These alternatives consist of:


Functions are an excellent way to group related commands and make code more readable and manageable. You can define a function in Bash by using the following syntax:

function_name() {
# Commands go here

In your Bash script, you can call a function by simply typing its name.

If-else Statements

If-then statements are an alternative to “goto” statements in Bash. They allow you to test for a specific condition and execute code based on its outcome. The following is an example of an if-else statement in Bash:

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


Loops are an alternative to the use of the “goto” statement in Bash. They allow you to repeatedly execute a block of code, either a fixed number of times or until a certain condition is met. The following demonstrates how a “for” loop operates in Bash:

for i in {1..5}; do
# Code to execute goes here

Additional Tips for Writing Bash Scripts

Is There a “goto” Statement in Bash

If you’re new to Bash scripting, the following tips will help you write better scripts:

Use Comments

Comments are an integral part of every programming language, including Bash. You can add comments to your code to explain what it does and how it operates. This can be particularly helpful for future programmers who may need to work with your code. You can add comments in Bash by beginning a line with the “#” character.

Avoid Hard-Coding Values

Coding values in your Bash script can reduce its flexibility and make it more difficult to maintain. Consider using variables instead of hard-coded values. Variables permit the storage and reuse of values throughout a script. This can make your code more modifiable and flexible. Here is an example of variable usage in Bash:

my_var="Hello World"
echo $my_var

Use Error Checking

Error checking is an integral part of every programming language, including Bash. Bash provides multiple error-checking and error-handling mechanisms. Use the “set -e” command at the beginning of your script to accomplish this. This command instructs Bash to exit immediately if any script command fails. Here’s an illustration:

set -e
# Commands go here

Use Proper Indentation

Proper indentation can facilitate the readability and maintenance of your code. You can use tabs or spaces to indent code in Bash. Use either four spaces or one tab for each level of indentation, as recommended.


Bash is a powerful scripting language that can be used for a variety of tasks. While it does support a “goto” statement, it’s not recommended to use it. Instead, there are better alternatives that can be used, such as functions, if-else statements, and loops. By following these tips and best practices, you can write better Bash scripts that are easier to read, maintain, and debug.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, while Bash does support the “goto” statement, its use is generally discouraged. A “goto” statement can make code less readable and more difficult to maintain. Instead, it is advised to use flow control statements such as functions, if-then statements, and loops. By adhering to best practices such as commenting, variable usage, error checking, and proper indentation, you can create more flexible and modifiable Bash scripts.

Remember that the purpose of a Bash script is to automate tasks and simplify your life. By writing scripts that are simple to read and maintain, you can accomplish this objective more efficiently. When writing a Bash script in the future, avoid using the “goto” statement and instead follow the best practices outlined in this article.

Thank you for reading, and best of luck with your writing!

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