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<ResourcePseudo-types used in this documentation>
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Last updated: Thu, 21 Aug 2003


The special NULL value represents that a variable has no value. NULL is the only possible value of type NULL.

Note: The null type was introduced in PHP 4

A variable is considered to be NULL if

  • it has been assigned the constant NULL.

  • it has not been set to any value yet.

  • it has been unset().


There is only one value of type NULL, and that is the case-insensitive keyword NULL.

$var = NULL;       

See also is_null() and unset().

add a note add a note User Contributed Notes
alex at netflex dot nl
13-Jun-2002 06:13

Function for looking if it is a NULL



  if (
isnull("var")) {
  } else {

  if (
isnull("test")) { // give FALSE, test is not set
echo "test===NULL\n";
  } else {

$array['var'] = NULL;

  if (
isnull("var"$array)) {
  } else {

isnull($var$base FALSE) {
    if (
$base===FALSE) {
$base = &$GLOBALS;
    } elseif (!
is_array($base)) {
    if ((
array_key_exists($var$base))&&($base[$var]===NULL)) {
    } else {

joemamacow at hotmail dot com
03-Mar-2002 06:12
I have particularly found that the NULL value is very helpful when using form and script on the same page.

For example:

if(isset($password) AND $password = $passwd):
echo "You're logged in!";
elseif(isset($password) AND $password != $passwd):
$password = NULL;
echo "Sorry, wrong password, <a href=$PHP_SELF>log in again</a>.";
echo "Log in!
<input type=text name=password>
<input type=submit>";

So, when the user geta the wrong password message, the password is set to NULL, making it unset, therefore when the page is refreshed, it will go back to the password from.
avbentem at
23-Feb-2002 05:25
To extend a bit on tbdavis's comment:

:: NULL == NULL is true
:: NULL == FALSE is true
:: NULL == TRUE is false

However: note the implicit type conversions that PHP performs! When using 'identical' instead of 'equal' then both NULL === FALSE and NULL === TRUE yield FALSE. An overview is easily created using something like

    function evalExpr( $desc )
      echo str_pad($desc , 15) . "--> ";
      var_dump( eval( "return(" . $desc . ");" ));

Note that even TRUE AND TRUE does not evaluate to a boolean value, and that OR and XOR behave different as well!

    PHP Version: 4.0.6

    false          --> bool(false)
    true           --> bool(true)
    null           --> NULL
    !null          --> bool(true)

    true and true  --> int(1)
    true and false --> int(0)
    true or true   --> int(1)
    true or false  --> int(1)
    true xor true  --> bool(false)
    true xor false --> bool(true)
    true == null   --> bool(false)
    true === null  --> bool(false)
    true != null   --> bool(true)
    true !== null  --> bool(true)

    false == null  --> bool(true)
    false === null --> bool(false)
    false != null  --> bool(false)
    false !== null --> bool(true)

    null == null   --> bool(true)
    null != null   --> bool(false)
    null === null  --> bool(true)
    null !== null  --> bool(false)

    null or null   --> int(0)
    null xor null  --> bool(false)
    null and null  --> int(0)
    true or null   --> int(1)
    true xor null  --> bool(true)
    true and null  --> int(0)

    false or null  --> int(0)
    false xor null --> bool(false)
    false and null --> int(0)

    true < null    --> bool(false)
    true > null    --> bool(true)
    false < null   --> bool(false)
    false > null   --> bool(false)

    1 + null       --> int(1)
    "text" . null  --> string(4) "text"

Finally, for those who do not know SQL: in SQL the NULL value is evaluated a bit like "I do not know; it could be anything, like 0, 1, a, b, true, false or even nothing at all". This implies that in SQL NULL == NULL could be interpreted as "could be anything" == "could be something else", which does not yield true! Instead, it yields NULL, which boils down to FALSE in boolean context...

Likewise, in SQL:

    NULL OR TRUE yields TRUE
    NULL == TRUE yields FALSE
    NULL == FALSE yields FALSE

sc at dbtech dot de
17-Feb-2002 07:59
NULL as the best way to detect additional parameters of unknown type:

function FooBar($Param = NULL) {
  if (is_null($Param)) {
junk dot phpnet at gasolinemm dot com
18-Nov-2001 01:19
$a = "";
$b = NULL;

$a == $b;
/* returns true: $a has been converted to $b for the equality comparison */

is_null($a); //returns false
is_null($b); //returns true

$a === $b;
/* returns false: $a is not _identical_ to $b */
dward at maidencreek dot com
13-Nov-2001 07:52
Nulls are almost the same as unset variables and it is hard to tell the difference without creating errors from the interpreter:

$var = NULL;

isset($var) is FALSE
empty($var) is TRUE
is_null($var) is TRUE

isset($novar) is FALSE
empty($novar) is TRUE
is_null($novar) gives an Undefined variable error

$var IS in the symbol table (from get_defined_vars())
$var CAN be used as an argument or an expression.

So, in most cases I found that we needed to use !isset($var) intead of is_null($var) and then set $var = NULL if the variable needs to be used later to guarantee that $var is a valid variable with a NULL value instead of being undefined.
tbdavis at greyshirt dot net
11-Oct-2001 06:36
Unlike the relational model, NULL in PHP has the following properties:
NULL == NULL is true,
NULL == FALSE is true.
And in line with the relational model, NULL == TRUE fails.

<ResourcePseudo-types used in this documentation>
 Last updated: Thu, 21 Aug 2003
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