How do I do a literal *int64 in Go?


I have a struct type with a *int64 field.

type SomeType struct {
    SomeField *int64

At some point in my code, I want to declare a literal of this (say, when I know said value should be 0, or pointing to a 0, you know what I mean)

instance := SomeType{
    SomeField: &0,

…except this doesn’t work

./main.go:xx: cannot use &0 (type *int) as type *int64 in field value

So I try this

instance := SomeType{
    SomeField: &int64(0),

…but this also doesn’t work

./main.go:xx: cannot take the address of int64(0)

How do I do this? The only solution I can come up with is using a placeholder variable

var placeholder int64
placeholder = 0

instance := SomeType{
    SomeField: &placeholder,

Note: the &0 syntax works fine when it’s a *int instead of an *int64. Edit: no it does not. Sorry about this.


Aparently there was too much ambiguity to my question. I’m looking for a way to literally state a *int64. This could be used inside a constructor, or to state literal struct values, or even as arguments to other functions. But helper functions or using a different type are not solutions I’m looking for.


The Go Language Specification (Address operators) does not allow to take the address of a numeric constant (not of an untyped nor of a typed constant).

The operand must be addressable, that is, either a variable, pointer indirection, or slice indexing operation; or a field selector of an addressable struct operand; or an array indexing operation of an addressable array. As an exception to the addressability requirement, x [in the expression of &x] may also be a (possibly parenthesized) composite literal.

For reasoning why this isn’t allowed, see related question: Find address of constant in go. A similar question (similarly not allowed to take its address): How can I store reference to the result of an operation in Go?

Your options (try all on the Go Playground):

1) With new()

You can simply use the builtin new() function to allocate a new zero-valued int64 and get its address:

instance := SomeType{
    SomeField: new(int64),

But note that this can only be used to allocate and obtain a pointer to the zero value of any type.

2) With helper variable

Simplest and recommended for non-zero elements is to use a helper variable whose address can be taken:

helper := int64(2)
instance2 := SomeType{
    SomeField: &helper,

3) With helper function

Note: Helper functions to acquire a pointer to a non-zero value are available in my library, in the gox package, so you don’t have to add these to all your projects where you need it.

Or if you need this many times, you can create a helper function which allocates and returns an *int64:

func create(x int64) *int64 {
    return &x

And using it:

instance3 := SomeType{
    SomeField: create(3),

Note that we actually didn’t allocate anything, the Go compiler did that when we returned the address of the function argument. The Go compiler performs escape analysis, and allocate local variables on the heap (instead of the stack) if they may escape the function. For details, see Is returning a slice of a local array in a Go function safe?

Go 1.18 generics update: Generics are added in Go 1.18. This means we can create a single, generic create() function that we can use for all types. Hopefully it’ll get added to the standard library.

This is how it can look like:

func Ptr[T any](t T) *T {
    return &t

Testing it:

i := Ptr(2)
log.Printf("%T %v", i, *i)

s := Ptr("abc")
log.Printf("%T %v", s, *s)

x := Ptr[any](nil)
log.Printf("%T %v", x, *x)

Which will output (try it on the Go Playground):

2009/11/10 23:00:00 *int 2
2009/11/10 23:00:00 *string abc
2009/11/10 23:00:00 *interface {} <nil>

4) With a one-liner anonymous function

instance4 := SomeType{
    SomeField: func() *int64 { i := int64(4); return &i }(),

Or as a (shorter) alternative:

instance4 := SomeType{
    SomeField: func(i int64) *int64 { return &i }(4),

5) With slice literal, indexing and taking address

If you would want *SomeField to be other than 0, then you need something addressable.

You can still do that, but that’s ugly:

instance5 := SomeType{
    SomeField: &[]int64{5}[0],
fmt.Println(*instance2.SomeField) // Prints 5

What happens here is an []int64 slice is created with a literal, having one element (5). And it is indexed (0th element) and the address of the 0th element is taken. In the background an array of [1]int64 will also be allocated and used as the backing array for the slice. So there is a lot of boilerplate here.

6) With a helper struct literal

Let’s examine the exception to the addressability requirements:

As an exception to the addressability requirement, x [in the expression of &x] may also be a (possibly parenthesized) composite literal.

This means that taking the address of a composite literal, e.g. a struct literal is ok. If we do so, we will have the struct value allocated and a pointer obtained to it. But if so, another requirement will become available to us: "field selector of an addressable struct operand". So if the struct literal contains a field of type int64, we can also take the address of that field!

Let’s see this option in action. We will use this wrapper struct type:

type intwrapper struct {
    x int64

And now we can do:

instance6 := SomeType{
    SomeField: &(&intwrapper{6}).x,

Note that this


means the following:

& ( (&intwrapper{6}).x )

But we can omit the "outer" parenthesis as the address operator & is applied to the result of the selector expression.

Also note that in the background the following will happen (this is also a valid syntax):


7) With helper anonymous struct literal

The principle is the same as with case #6, but we can also use an anonymous struct literal, so no helper/wrapper struct type definition needed:

instance7 := SomeType{
    SomeField: &(&struct{ x int64 }{7}).x,

Answered By – icza

Answer Checked By – Candace Johnson (GoLangFix Volunteer)

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