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Is an array empty in PHP? A few ways to make sure of it.

Benjamin Crozat Benjamin Crozat2 minutes read

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Is an array empty in PHP? A few ways to make sure of it.
Table of contents

To ensure that a PHP array is empty, you can use any of the following methods:

  1. Use the empty() function to check if the array is empty and return a boolean value.
  2. Use the count() (or sizeof()) function to count the number of elements in the array and check if it is equal to zero.
  3. Use the not operator (!). If the array does hold any value, the not operator will return true.

The empty() function

The empty() function determines if a value is empty or not. It simply returns true if it’s empty, or false if it’s not.

This is my favorite way to check if an array is empty in PHP.

$foo = [];
 
// true
if (empty($foo)) {
//
}
 
$bar = ['Foo', 'Bar', 'Baz'];
 
// false
if (empty($bar)) {
//
}

The count() function

The count() function counts the number of entries in an array and returns it as an integer.

You can even use it with Countable objects.

// 3
echo count(['Foo', 'Bar', 'Baz']);

For multidimensional arrays, there’s a second parameter for which you can use the COUNT_RECURSIVE constant to recursively count the numbers of items.

$array = [
'Foo' => [
'Bar' => ['Baz'],
],
];
 
// 1
$count = count($array);
 
// 3
$count = count($array, COUNT_RECURSIVE);
 
// If $count is greater than zero, then your array is not empty.
if ($count > 0) {
//
}

The sizeof() function

sizeof() is an alias of count(). PHP actually has a lot of aliases for various functions.

There’s nothing to add, you already know how to use it:

// 3
echo sizeof(['Foo', 'Bar', 'Baz']);

The not (!) operator

This one is simple. You are probably used to the not (!) operator. I didn’t know it could check for empty arrays, but here I am, after 15 years of PHP learning yet another basic thing.

$foo = [];
 
if (! $foo) {
echo '$foo is empty.';
}

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