Severity Level: Warning


To ensure that PowerShell performs comparisons correctly, the $null element should be on the left side of the operator.

There are multiple reasons why this occurs:

  • $null is a scalar value. When the value on the left side of an operator is a scalar, comparison operators return a Boolean value. When the value is a collection, the comparison operators return any matching values or an empty array if there are no matches in the collection.
  • PowerShell performs type casting left to right, resulting in incorrect comparisons when $null is cast to other scalar types.

The only way to reliably check if a value is $null is to place $null on the left side of the operator so that a scalar comparison is performed.


Move $null to the left side of the comparison.



function Test-CompareWithNull
    if ($DebugPreference -eq $null)


function Test-CompareWithNull
    if ($null -eq $DebugPreference)

Try it Yourself

# Both expressions below return 'false' because the comparison does not return an
# object and therefore the if statement always falls through:
if (@() -eq $null) { 'true' } else { 'false' }
if (@() -ne $null) { 'true' } else { 'false' }

This is how the comparison operator works by-design. But, as demonstrated, this can lead to non-intuitive behavior, especially when the intent is simple test for null.

The following example demonstrates the designed behavior of the comparison operator when the left-hand side is a collection. Each element in the collection is compared to the right-hand side value. When true, that element of the collection is returned.

PS> 1,2,3,1,2 -eq $null
PS> 1,2,3,1,2 -eq 1
PS> (1,2,3,1,2 -eq $null).count
PS> (1,2,$null,3,$null,1,2 -eq $null).count