How to fix "expected begin_array but was begin_object" in Retrofit ?

Before we begin, keep this in mind

begin_array means the json response is an array which will look something like this [{},{},..]
begin_object means the json response is an object which will look something like this {....}

gson is one cool library that will provide us with cool tips in the form of errors while handling json responses. One such tip is "expected begin_array but was begin_object". These tips/errors are quite self explanatory, we can now look deeper into these errors.

While handling responses using retrofit, we often tend to come across an error "expected begin_array but was begin_object", which is thrown by gson. Obviously this means that we are trying to parse the response as if it is a json array response but when actually it is a json object response. But still we come across these errors a lot of time. We will be looking in detail about such situations in this post.

First add the following dependencies in your app's build.gradle file

compile 'com.squareup.retrofit2:retrofit:2.3.0'
compile 'com.squareup.retrofit2:converter-gson:2.3.0'


  • json object  response is of the form {....}.  The json object may also contain a json array like the below example where the json object contains a json array named user_array.
"user_array": [
 }, {..},

In order to parse the above json object you can either use the JsonObject from gson or create pojo classes

1. Parsing using JsonObject  from gson

Retrofit retrofit = new Retrofit.Builder() .baseUrl("base_url") .addConverterFactory(GsonConverterFactory.create()) .build(); RequestInterface request = retrofit.create(RequestInterface.class); Call<JsonObject> call=request.getJson(); call.enqueue(new Callback<JsonObject>() { @Override public void onResponse(Call<JsonObject> call, Response<JsonObject> response) { progressDialog.dismiss(); String s= String.valueOf(response.get("username")); JsonArray user_array= response.getAsJsonArray("user_array"); Toast.makeText(PrintTicket.this,response.toString(),Toast.LENGTH_SHORT).show(); } @Override public void onFailure(Call<JsonObject> call, Throwable t) { progressDialog.dismiss(); Toast.makeText(PrintTicket.this,t.toString(),Toast.LENGTH_SHORT).show(); } });
public interface RequestInterface { @GET("api_endpoint") Call<JsonObject> getJson(); }

2. Parsing using POJO  class

You can automatically generate the pojo classes by pasting your json response structure in .

FYI : after pasting the response structure in ,  set the source type to JSON and Annotation style to Gson , now click preview button and you can see generated pojo class/classes

For the above case you will need to generate two classes like below

public class Example {

private String username;
private String email;
private List<UserArray> userArray = null;

public String getUsername() {
return username;

public void setUsername(String username) {
this.username = username;

public String getEmail() {
return email;

public void setEmail(String email) { = email;

public List<UserArray> getUserArray() {
return userArray;

public void setUserArray(List<UserArray> userArray) {
this.userArray = userArray;


public class UserArray {

private String userAddress;
private String userLocation;

public String getUserAddress() {
return userAddress;

public void setUserAddress(String userAddress) {
this.userAddress = userAddress;

public String getUserLocation() {
return userLocation;

public void setUserLocation(String userLocation) {
this.userLocation = userLocation;


In the above  pojo classes, we have used @SerializedName annotation which will help us to map the class variables to respective keys in the response json. For example, in, the string variable userAddress is correctly mapped to user_address by using the @SerializedName annotation like this

private String userAddress;

The is for parsing the outer json object whereas is for parsing the inner json object which should be parsed as a list(since there is a list of objects in user_array)

Now the retrofit call should be made like the following

ArrayList<RouteStop> user_array;
Retrofit retrofit = new Retrofit.Builder()

RequestInterface request = retrofit.create(RequestInterface.class);
Call<Example> call=request.getJson();
call.enqueue(new Callback<Example>() {
    public void onResponse(Call<Example> call, Response<Example> response) {
        String user_name= response.getUsername();
        user_array= new ArrayList<>(response.getUserArray());

    public void onFailure(Call<Example> call, Throwable t) {
public interface RequestInterface {
Call<Example> getJson();

The error "expected begin_array but was begin_object" occurs  if you are trying to parse the above response using Call<List<Example>> call=request.getJson(); because by using <List<Example>> we are clearly making an array request but we need to make an object request since response is of the form {..}

Similarly we get the error "expected begin_object but was begin_array when we are trying to make an object request were the response is of the form [{},{},..], which is a json array example. In such case we should make the call like Call<List<Example>>

Please check this tutorial to parse json array and display it in a recyclerview. Also free source code download is avalaible.

You may also check similar issues in StackOverflow

You may also check the following video that shows how to parse a json response using retrofit 2