# COMBINA Function in☝️ Google Sheets Explained (Definition, Syntax, How to Use It, Examples)

This guide covers everything you need to know about the Google Sheets COMBINA function, including its definition, syntax, use cases, and how to use it.

Quick Jump

## What is the COMBINA Function? How Does It Work?

The COMBINA function returns the count of combinations (with repetitions) for a specific number of items. It tells you how many different ways you can choose objects from a larger group, where you’re allowed to choose the same object more than once – this is known as choosing with replacement.

The function requires two arguments, n and k. ‘n’ represents the total pool of objects you’re choosing from, while ‘k’ is the number of objects you want to select. Both these values should always be greater than or equal to 0.

For instance, if you’re using the function COMBINA(5, 3), it signifies that you’re selecting 3 items from a larger group of 5, and the function will calculate all the possible combinations, including those where the same object is chosen multiple times.

This function is especially useful in probability and statistics, where it can help calculate possible outcomes. COMBINA(n, k) is equivalent to COMBIN(n+k-1), meaning it calculates the same value as “(n+k-1) choose k”. It’s also equivalent to FACT(n+k-1)/(FACT(k)*FACT(n-1)) but can support larger numbers.

## COMBINA Syntax

The syntax and arguments for the COMBINA function are as follows:

Syntax:

COMBINA(n, k)

• n: This argument represents the size pool of objects to choose from. The value for n should be greater than or equal to 0.
• k: This argument represents the number of objects to choose. The value for k should also be greater than or equal to 0.

Usage notes related to syntax and arguments include:

• The order in which the objects are chosen within the COMBINA function is irrelevant.
• COMBINA(n, k) can be equivalent to COMBIN(n+k-1). This can be interpreted as “(n+k-1) choose k”.
• COMBINA(n, k) can also be equivalent to FACT(n+k-1)/(FACT(k)*FACT(n-1)), but it supports larger numbers as arguments.
• If a number (or reference to a number) with a decimal part is provided to COMBINA, the decimal part is truncated before calculation.
• If the sum of the arguments n+k is greater than or equal to 1031, a #NUM! error is returned. This is because the function cannot handle such large numbers.

## Examples of How to Use the COMBINA Function

Here are some practical examples that illustrate how to use the COMBINA function in Google Sheets:

### Example #1: Calculating the number of possible combinations for a lottery draw

Suppose you organize a lottery draw where participants can select 5 numbers from a pool of 50. You want to find out how many possible combinations there are, including combinations with repeating numbers. In this case, you can use the COMBINA function.

In an empty cell, type in the following formula: =COMBINA(50, 5). The function will return the value 2118760.

### Example #2: Calculating combinations for a team selection

Suppose you are a coach and you have a pool of 20 players. You need to select a team of 11 players for a match. You want to find out how many different teams you can select, assuming that the order of selection does not matter and players can be selected more than once. You can use the COMBINA function to calculate this.

In an empty cell, type in the following formula: =COMBINA(20, 11). The function will return the value 167960, which is the total number of possible teams.

### Example #3: Calculating combinations for a product selection

Suppose you are a store owner and you have 10 different products. You want to create bundles of 3 products to sell. You want to find out how many different bundles you can create, assuming that products can be included in more than one bundle. You can use the COMBINA function to calculate this.

In an empty cell, type in the following formula: =COMBINA(10, 3). The function will return the value 220, which is the total number of possible bundles.

## COMBINA: Common Mistakes & Problems

When using the COMBINA function in Google Sheets, there are a number of common mistakes and problems that you may encounter. Here are a few to consider:

• Incorrect number of arguments: The COMBINA function requires two arguments: the number of characters to choose and the number of characters to repeat. If you provide more or less than these two arguments, Google Sheets will return an error.
• Non-integer values: Both arguments for the COMBINA function must be integers. If you input decimal numbers, fractions, or non-numeric values, Google Sheets will not be able to calculate the combination and will return an error.
• Negative values: The COMBINA function does not accept negative values. If either of the arguments is a negative number, Google Sheets will return an error.
• Zero as an argument: If you use zero as the number of characters to choose or repeat, Google Sheets will return the value 1. This may cause confusion as you would typically expect a combination of zero items to also be zero.
• Large argument values: The COMBINA function can handle large numbers, but there is a limit. If the total number of combinations exceeds Google Sheets’ maximum limit (approximately 1.0E+308), it will return an error.

## Why Is COMBINA Not Working? Troubleshooting Common Errors

If you’ve been using the COMBINA function in Google Sheets and it’s not working, it’s likely you’ve encountered one of the following common errors. This section will help you identify these errors, understand their causes, and provide solutions for fixing them.

### #VALUE! Error

Cause: This error might occur if the arguments provided in the COMBINA function are non-numeric, negative, or if the number of combinations to choose (k) is larger than the total number of items (n).

Solution: Ensure you enter numeric values for both arguments in the function. Also, the number of items (n) and the number of combinations to choose (k) should be positive, and k should never be larger than n. For example, COMBINA(3,2) would be a valid usage of the function.

### #N/A Error

Cause: The #N/A error usually pops up when the COMBINA function is trying to reference a cell that does not exist or is not accessible.

Solution: Double-check your function to ensure all referenced cells exist and are accessible. For instance, you might encounter this error if you’re working with a deleted or protected sheet.

### #DIV/0! Error

Cause: This error occurs when the second argument in the COMBINA function (k) is zero. The function cannot calculate combinations when the number to choose from is zero; hence, it results in a division by zero error.

Solution: Ensure that the second argument (k) in the COMBINA function is not zero. For example, COMBINA(3,1) would be a valid function usage.

### #NUM! Error

Cause: The #NUM! error occurs when the arguments provided in the COMBINA function are larger than what the function can handle. Google Sheets cannot calculate combinations if the total number of items (n) or the number of combinations to choose (k) exceeds 1030.

Solution: Keep the values of both arguments (n and k) in the COMBINA function below 1030. If you need to calculate larger combinations, you might need to use a different tool or software that can handle larger numbers.

For more details on the COMBINA function, check out the official documentation at the Google Docs Editors Help Center.

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Daniel Smith
Daniel Smith is automation consultant with a passion for technology, data, AI, and machine learning.