After some searching the closest code snippet I've found is:

->fieldCondition('field_name_ref', 'nid', 'NULL', '!=');

This will find everything where the node reference is not null. But if I change the != to = it returns nothing. I've tried all the combinations of values I can think of:

  • Passing in NULL instead of 'NULL'.
  • Passing in array()
  • Trying 1, "<"
  • "", "CONTAINS"
  • "", "="
  • 0, "="

Plus a few more, just trying all the combinations I can think of.

How can I pull this off?

2 Answers 2


As crazy as it might sound, you can't. Normally you'd use the IS NULL operator to do this but it is apparently not supported by EntityFieldQuery:

EntityFieldQuery does not support isNull or isNotNull

Also I think the EntityFieldQuery internally uses INNER JOIN, rather than LEFT JOIN so records that don't have a value in your condition table would be excluded from the query results anyway. The issue has been reported several times:

  • I ended up using this: drupal.org/node/1226622#comment-6809826 Thanks!
    – mikeytown2
    Jan 31, 2013 at 0:09
  • I think this was your very 1st answer on Drupal.SE ... +1 now, about 4 years later ... And congratulations for hitting the 100 K rep !!! Sep 10, 2015 at 20:55
  • Cheers @Pierre.Vriens, apparently I get a t-shirt ;)
    – Clive
    Sep 11, 2015 at 18:21

For a workaround I added a custom tag to the query and then I used hook_query_TAG_alter(), see #1157006 at drupal.org for more details.

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