How can I get an error message in a string in Go?

Use the errors package to create new errors.

err = errors.New("an error")

The returned error can be treated as a string by either accessing err.Error(), or using the fmt package functions (for example fmt.Println(err)).

Don’t use recover unless you really know what you’re doing. It’s idiomatic to return all errors, and to deal with them when they arise.

See Error handling and Go, and Defer, Panic and Recover on the Go blog for more info.

Rereading your question, it looks like you’re trying to recover from possible failed type assertions. In this instance it’s recommended to use the “comma, ok” idiom (mentioned in the previously linked section of the docs), which (slightly paraphrased to be more general) means:

“If the type assertion fails, [the receiver variable] will still exist and be of type [whatever was asserted], but it will have the zero value…”

A simple example to test if an interface{} is actually a float64 through type assertion, and produce a custom error if it fails (instead of panicking):

package main

import (

// assertFloat64 attempts a type assertion to float64.
// It returns a custom error if it fails.
func assertFloat64(n interface{}) error {
    // Type assertion. Is n float64?
    f, ok := n.(float64)
    // If yes,
    if ok {
        // print the result
        fmt.Printf("%f is float64\n", f)
        // and return nil error.
        return nil
    // Else return our custom error
    return errors.New(fmt.Sprintf("could not assert that \"%v\" is float64.\n", n))

func main() {
    // Successful
    // 1024.0 is float64
    err := assertFloat64(1024.0)
    if err != nil {

    // Failure
    // "foo" isn't float64
    err = assertFloat64("foo")
    if err != nil {

Will print:

1024.000000 is float64
could not assert that “foo” is float64.


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