Trying to run some bash functions , but keep encountering syntax error: "(" unexpected. I've try'ed removing the brackets,parenthesis etc etc...nothing seems to work.

$ bash --version
GNU bash, version 4.3.46(1) release

function hello () {
echo "Hello world"
  • How are you running the script? – muru Oct 9 '16 at 13:35
  • With full permissions. sh hello.sh – James A Oct 9 '16 at 13:35
  • 1
    see ryanstutorials.net/bash-scripting-tutorial/bash-functaions.php – Rinzwind Oct 9 '16 at 13:36
  • I read his tutorials last night and followed them to see where I was going wrong...but I still get a syntax error which is very confusing. Should't the shebang at least make the function compatible even if Ubuntu is running a different shell? – James A Oct 9 '16 at 13:43
  • Problem solved. I was using $ sh hello.sh ---> I get error . I should of been using ./hello.sh to run it correctly.I'm guessing the shebang gets over written and the default dash shell used? – James A Oct 9 '16 at 14:23

If you are running the script with sh hello.sh, the interpreting shell will not be the one mentioned in the shebang line, but /bin/sh will be used. In case of Debian and Ubuntu by default this will be dash.

So to run your script correctly with a bash, use either of the following.

/bin/bash hello.sh


chmod +x hello.sh

Alternatively you also could set bash as the /bin/sh.

dpkg-reconfigure dash 
  • Thank you for response.No idea why it was down voted :/ – James A Oct 9 '16 at 14:37


The syntax error is because of (). Remove () from the file like this:

function hello {
echo "Hello world"

or you can just run the following command to edit the file for you:

sed -i 's/() //g' hello.sh

You should now be able to run the file with the desired result.


You could add lines 2, 3, and 4 to your ~/.bashrc file.

function hello () {
echo "Hello world"

Remember, do not use sudo to edit your ~/.bashrc file!

After you add the lines to the file, run the following command to restart bash or "source" your .bashrc file:

. ~/.bashrc

You should now be able to run the comand hello and "Hello world" should print in the terminal.


You could edit the file to say this instead:

echo "Hello world"

and name the file hello and save the file to /usr/local/bin.

After doing all of that, make the file executable by running the following command:

sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/hello

You should now be able to run the comand hello and "Hello world" should print in the terminal.


A third option would be to add the following line to your ~/.bashrc file:

alias hello='echo "Hello world"'

Then, source your .bashrc file using the following command:

. ~/.bashrc 
  • Thank you for you responses....I've tried a few and found the answer simple enough. Instead of using $sh hello.sh... ./hello.sh works fine.It must be the shebang been over written ^^ – James A Oct 9 '16 at 14:17
  • Why was Thomas's answer down voted but? Was he not correct? – James A Oct 9 '16 at 14:21

GNU Bash is the shell used by default in terminals on Ubuntu. However when scripts are executed on system boot then dash is used, as it is dash that is /bin/sh.

Won't work-->

$ sh hello.sh

Will work -->


Problem solved


According to your Script:

function hello () {
    echo "Hello world"

#call this function as follow:
hello   # Syntax Correct
hello() # Syntax Error

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