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ABAP Keyword Documentation →  ABAP - Reference →  Processing Internal Data →  Internal Tables →  Expressions and Functions for Internal Tables 

table_exp - Table Expressions

Other versions: 7.31 | 7.40 | 7.54


... itab[ itab_line ] ...


A table expression consists of an internal table itab, followed directly by a row (itab_line) specified in square brackets [ ]. The expression finds the specified row in the internal table and returns it as the result of the corresponding row type, which can be used as follows:

  • Reader Positions
  • Writer Positions

The internal table itab must be specified directly using its name, a field symbol, or a dereferenced data reference as described under Reader Positions. In a table with header line, the table body is addressed and not the header line.

The structure component selector - can be used to access components of the row in question and direct chainings [ ... ][  ... ] of multiple table expressions. Table expression cannot yet, however, be specified on the left side of object component selector ->.

If the specified row is not found, a handleable expression of the class CX_SY_ITAB_LINE_NOT_FOUND is raised in all operand positions, except when

  • a table expression is used in the statement ASSIGN, where sy-subrc is set to the value 4,
  • when used in the predicate function line_exists, where the logical value "false" is returned,
  • when used in the table function line_index, where the value 0 is returned.


  • Unlike other syntax representations in the ABAP key word documentation, the "[" and "]" characters are part of the syntax.

  • In table expressions, the empty square brackets [] cannot be specified behind itab. In other operand positions, these empty brackets distinguish the table body from header lines.

  • Functions and constructor expressions cannot currently be specified for itab, but the table expressions shown under Chainings are possible.

  • A table expression cannot be followed directly by a specified offset/length +off(len), but this is possible after a chaining whose final place is a suitable structure component after a structure component selector.

  • Duplicate selections (multiple reads performed on the same row of an internal table in different expressions) must be avoided manually. In these cases, a selection should be made before the statement and the result referenced by a field symbol or reference variable.

  • Each table expression can be view as a short form for a variant of the statement READ TABLE that enables reads to be performed on rows of internal tables in operand positions.

  • Unlike READ TABLE, a table expression does not modify the value of the system field sy-tabix.

  • Like the statement READ TABLE, a table expression is a single row read. If multiple rows of an internal table are to be read, the statement LOOP generally displays better performance than using table expressions in a loop.

  • Mesh path expressions are a special form of table expression that can be used in exactly the same way as table expressions.


The content of the component carrid of the row of the internal table carrier_tab is passed to the method get_spfli. In this table, the component carrname of the secondary key name has a specific value.

DATA carrier_tab TYPE HASHED TABLE OF scarr 
                 WITH UNIQUE KEY carrid 
                 WITH NON-UNIQUE SORTED KEY name COMPONENTS carrname. 

SELECT * FROM scarr INTO TABLE @carrier_tab. 

    DATA(flight_tab) = cl_demo_spfli=>get_spfli( 
      carrier_tab[ KEY name 
                  COMPONENTS carrname = 'United Airlines' ]-carrid ). 
    cl_demo_output=>display( flight_tab ). 
  CATCH cx_sy_itab_line_not_found. 
    cl_demo_output=>display( `Nothing found` ). 


Here, the first calculation with table rows is a bad example of how to use table expressions. The same selection is made three times in the same statement. The second calculation shows how this can be avoided by using an assignment to a field symbol.

itab = VALUE #( ( 3 ) ( 5 ) ). 

"Bad example 
itab[ table_line = 3 ] = 
  itab[ table_line = 3 ] * itab[ table_line = 3 ]. 

"Good example 
ASSIGN itab[ table_line = 5 ] TO FIELD-SYMBOL(<fs>). 
<fs> = <fs> * <fs>.


The program DEMO_TABLE_EXPRESSIONS shows further examples of how to use table expressions.


Catchable Exceptions


  • Cause: The specified table row was not found.
    Runtime Error: ITAB_LINE_NOT_FOUND


table_exp - itab_line

table_exp - Result

table_exp - Chainings

table_exp - default

table_exp - Writer Positions