Is go-ternary a Hero or Villain in Golang's Story?


Introduction to the Ternary Concept

The ternary operator, written as ? :, is one of those beautiful staples in most programming languages. It was created to make conditional (if-else-like) operations short and sweet. Back in the day, developers loved that they could make a decision with a single line of code, making the whole thing easier for them to read and sometimes faster.

However, Go lacks the native ternary operator found in other languages. Go is all about simplicity and clarity — so much so that it often opts for explicitness over concise syntactic sugar. The absence of go-ternary underscores this philosophy and further encourages programmers to stick with Go’s if-else structures that get the job done effectively.

But this isn’t the end of the story. Various attempts have been made to bring back ternaries in Go through indirect means.


Pre-requisites: Setup Environment

First things first: Navigate your way into your project's root directory

mkdir ~/projects/ternary; cd ~/projects/ternary

Initialize your directory

go mod init ternary

When you build or run your code, Go will automatically fetch the necessary dependencies.

go get

To add go-ternary as a dependency, import it into your Go code

import ""


Walk Through - Core Features of go-ternary

The go-ternary package may not be an exact replica of classic ternaries –but they offer Go-friendly syntaxes with their if() function.


1. Using Trernary.If() function

The Go programming language does not possess the Ternary operator that’s in other languages, but have no fear! This handy little utility will make things easier for you. The ternary.If function gives us a similar result when it comes to conditional assignments but with much more simplicity. Here are the details:


func TernaryIf[T any](condition bool, trueVal, falseVal T) T {
    if condition {
        return trueVal
    return falseVal

Syntax Breakdown

  • func TernaryIf[T any]: In defining our generic function named TernaryIf, we included [T any] at the end of it all. What this tells us is that we’re working with a generic function where T can be any type. That way, we’re able to use types like int, string and float.
  • (condition bool, trueVal, falseVal T): For our second parameter, condition is a boolean expression. Whereas our third and fourth parameters (trueVal and falseVal) are of type T. These two represent what values should be returned if the condition is satisfied or failed respectfully.
  • T: With this final touch to our code were returning values of type T which matches the same type as trueVal and falseVal.

Here is a simple example:

package main

import (

func main() {
	result := ternary.If(true, "True Value", "False Value")

Let's check some more possible usage:

Basic String Evaluation

result := ternary.If(true, "foo", "bar")
// result holds "foo"

Dynamic Data Type Handling

The function can handle multiple data types due to its utilization of empty interfaces (interface{}), allowing for diverse application:

With integers:

value := ternary.If(5 > 3, 10, 20)
// value holds 10

With floating points:

value := ternary.If(5.2 > 3.1, 5.4, 3.2)
// value holds 5.4

Use Case for Pluralization

slice := []int{10, 20, 30}
output := ternary.If(len(slice) > 2, "objects", "object")
// output holds "objects"

Evaluation with Complex Data Types

It can also handle complex types, such as slices or maps, making it versatile:

value := ternary.If(true, []int{1, 2, 3}, []int{4, 5})
// value holds the slice [1, 2, 3]


2. Performing Nested Ternary Operations

The presence of ternary operations in many languages is a powerful tool. Especially when it comes to nesting them. With go-ternary, you can achieve nested conditions in Go as well.

age := 25
category := ternary.If(age < 13, "child", ternary.If(age < 19, "teenager", "adult"))
// category holds "adult"

Take a look at the code above. The outer condition checks if the age is less than 13 and if not; it runs that inner condition which then checks if the age is less than 19.

Combining with Logical Operations

isWeekend := true
hasHoliday := false
activity := ternary.If(isWeekend, "relax", ternary.If(hasHoliday, "travel", "work"))
// activity holds "relax"


3. Integration with Go's if Statement

Traditionally, you would have to write an if statement. But with go-ternary package, your conditional logic becomes more concise.

For example: Let’s say you’re building a weather application and want to display a message based on two factors: whether or not it’s raining and what the temperature is. Here’s how you might implement that using go-ternary combined with an if statement:

You could even use ternary.If() within loops to provide a concise way of assigning values based on some condition or another:

package main

import (

func main() {
	isRaining := true
	temperature := 18  // Celsius

	rainDescription := ternary.If(isRaining, "It's raining.", "It's not raining.")
	if temperature > 25 {
		fmt.Println("It's a hot day!")
	} else {
		temperatureDescription := ternary.If(temperature < 20, "It's a cool day.", "It's a mild day.")


4. Utilizing in Loops

You can use ternary.If() within loops, providing a concise way to assign values based on conditions:

package main

import (

func main() {
	numbers := []int{1, 2, 3, 4, 5}
	for _, num := range numbers {
	    parity := ternary.If(num%2 == 0, "even", "odd")
	    fmt.Printf("%d is %s\n", num, parity) 


5. With Structs and Methods

Go's structs and methods can easily incorporate ternary operations for compact conditional logic:

package main

import (

type Person struct {
    Name string
    Age  int

func (p Person) Status() string {
    return ternary.If(p.Age >= 18, "adult", "minor")

func main() {
    p := Person{Name: "John", Age: 20}
    fmt.Println(p.Name, "is an", p.Status())  // Outputs: John is an adult


Potential Pitfalls and Limitations

A way to bring ternary-like operations into the core of Go language is through go-ternary package. However, like any other tool it has its own danger zones and limitations. Here are some you should consider:

1. Readability Issues

Go emphasizes code readability as one of its core principles, so clear and explicit code is more preferable than concise yet potentially confusing statements. Thus using go-ternary too often might make your code less readable.

status := ternary.If(age >= 18, ternary.If(gender == "male", "adult male", "adult female"), ternary.If(gender == "male", "minor male", "minor female"))

Above is an example of a nested go-ternary operation that checks both age and gender, while it does work, it's not as easy to read as simple if-else statements in order to keep things clear traditional control structures would be more appropriate.

2. Type Limitations

The go-ternary package we’ve gone over earlier only returns one type such as a string, this means it might not be versatile for all use cases if you need to work with other data types for your program’s needs it may fall short.

result := ternary.If(condition, 1, 0) // This might not work if the library only supports strings.



We’ve made some major headway on understanding the go-ternary package and all its offerings. We know it can be helpful for those of us who have come from languages that support the ternary operation natively. The Go language doesn’t, but this package definitely makes up for it.
The go-ternary package makes everyday things a lot simpler. If you’re used to languages like JavaScript, C++, or Java, it’s going to feel like home. It’s important to remember though: Go likes things clear and concise rather than short and sweet. This is definitely a good package to get code done in less time, but sometimes using traditional Go idioms instead (such as if-else) will make your intent clearer.

For more information you can refer go-ternary GitHub Repository


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Deepak Prasad

Deepak Prasad

He is the founder of GoLinuxCloud and brings over a decade of expertise in Linux, Python, Go, Laravel, DevOps, Kubernetes, Git, Shell scripting, OpenShift, AWS, Networking, and Security. With extensive experience, he excels in various domains, from development to DevOps, Networking, and Security, ensuring robust and efficient solutions for diverse projects. You can connect with him on his LinkedIn profile.

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