A quick reference for regular expressions (regex), including symbols, ranges, grouping, assertions and some sample patterns to get you started.

#Get Started


This is a quick cheat sheet to getting started with regular expressions.

#Character Classes

Pattern Description
[abc] A single character of: a, b or c
[^abc] A character except: a, b or c
[a-z] A character in the range: a-z
[^a-z] A character not in the range: a-z
[0-9] A digit in the range: 0-9
[a-zA-Z] A character in the range:
a-z or A-Z
[a-zA-Z0-9] A character in the range:
a-z, A-Z or 0-9


Pattern Description
a? Zero or one of a
a* Zero or more of a
a+ One or more of a
[0-9]+ One or more of 0-9
a{3} Exactly 3 of a
a{3,} 3 or more of a
a{3,6} Between 3 and 6 of a
a* Greedy quantifier
a*? Lazy quantifier
a*+ Possessive quantifier

#Common Metacharacters

  • ^
  • {
  • +
  • <
  • [
  • *
  • )
  • >
  • .
  • (
  • |
  • $
  • \
  • ?

Escape these special characters with \

#Meta Sequences

Pattern Description
. Any single character
\s Any whitespace character
\S Any non-whitespace character
\d Any digit, Same as [0-9]
\D Any non-digit, Same as [^0-9]
\w Any word character
\W Any non-word character
\X Any Unicode sequences, linebreaks included
\C Match one data unit
\R Unicode newlines
\v Vertical whitespace character
\V Negation of \v - anything except newlines and vertical tabs
\h Horizontal whitespace character
\H Negation of \h
\K Reset match
\n Match nth subpattern
\pX Unicode property X
\p{...} Unicode property or script category
\PX Negation of \pX
\P{...} Negation of \p
\Q...\E Quote; treat as literals
\k<name> Match subpattern name
\k'name' Match subpattern name
\k{name} Match subpattern name
\gn Match nth subpattern
\g{n} Match nth subpattern
\g<n> Recurse nth capture group
\g'n' Recurses nth capture group.
\g{-n} Match nth relative previous subpattern
\g<+n> Recurse nth relative upcoming subpattern
\g'+n' Match nth relative upcoming subpattern
\g'letter' Recurse named capture group letter
\g{letter} Match previously-named capture group letter
\g<letter> Recurses named capture group letter
\xYY Hex character YY
\x{YYYY} Hex character YYYY
\ddd Octal character ddd
\cY Control character Y
[\b] Backspace character
\ Makes any character literal


Pattern Description
\G Start of match
^ Start of string
$ End of string
\A Start of string
\Z End of string
\z Absolute end of string
\b A word boundary
\B Non-word boundary


Pattern Description
\0 Complete match contents
\1 Contents in capture group 1
$1 Contents in capture group 1
${foo} Contents in capture group foo
\x20 Hexadecimal replacement values
\x{06fa} Hexadecimal replacement values
\t Tab
\r Carriage return
\n Newline
\f Form-feed
\U Uppercase Transformation
\L Lowercase Transformation
\E Terminate any Transformation

#Group Constructs

Pattern Description
(...) Capture everything enclosed
(a|b) Match either a or b
(?:...) Match everything enclosed
(?>...) Atomic group (non-capturing)
(?|...) Duplicate subpattern group number
(?#...) Comment
(?'name'...) Named Capturing Group
(?<name>...) Named Capturing Group
(?P<name>...) Named Capturing Group
(?imsxXU) Inline modifiers
(?(DEFINE)...) Pre-define patterns before using them


- -
(?(1)yes|no) Conditional statement
(?(R)yes|no) Conditional statement
(?(R#)yes|no) Recursive Conditional statement
(?(R&name)yes|no) Conditional statement
(?(?=...)yes|no) Lookahead conditional
(?(?<=...)yes|no) Lookbehind conditional


- -
(?=...) Positive Lookahead
(?!...) Negative Lookahead
(?<=...) Positive Lookbehind
(?<!...) Negative Lookbehind

Lookaround lets you match a group before (lookbehind) or after (lookahead) your main pattern without including it in the result.


Pattern Description
g Global
m Multiline
i Case insensitive
x Ignore whitespace
s Single line
u Unicode
X eXtended
U Ungreedy
A Anchor
J Duplicate group names


- -
(?R) Recurse entire pattern
(?1) Recurse first subpattern
(?+1) Recurse first relative subpattern
(?&name) Recurse subpattern name
(?P=name) Match subpattern name
(?P>name) Recurse subpattern name

#POSIX Character Classes

Character Class Same as Meaning
[[:alnum:]] [0-9A-Za-z] Letters and digits
[[:alpha:]] [A-Za-z] Letters
[[:ascii:]] [\x00-\x7F] ASCII codes 0-127
[[:blank:]] [\t ] Space or tab only
[[:cntrl:]] [\x00-\x1F\x7F] Control characters
[[:digit:]] [0-9] Decimal digits
[[:graph:]] [[:alnum:][:punct:]] Visible characters (not space)
[[:lower:]] [a-z] Lowercase letters
[[:print:]] [ -~] == [ [:graph:]] Visible characters
[[:punct:]] [!"#$%&’()*+,-./:;<=>[email protected][]^_`{|}~] Visible punctuation characters
[[:space:]] [\t\n\v\f\r ] Whitespace
[[:upper:]] [A-Z] Uppercase letters
[[:word:]] [0-9A-Za-z_] Word characters
[[:xdigit:]] [0-9A-Fa-f] Hexadecimal digits
[[:<:]] [\b(?=\w)] Start of word
[[:>:]] [\b(?<=\w)] End of word

#Control verb

- -
(*ACCEPT) Control verb
(*FAIL) Control verb
(*MARK:NAME) Control verb
(*COMMIT) Control verb
(*PRUNE) Control verb
(*SKIP) Control verb
(*THEN) Control verb
(*UTF) Pattern modifier
(*UTF8) Pattern modifier
(*UTF16) Pattern modifier
(*UTF32) Pattern modifier
(*UCP) Pattern modifier
(*CR) Line break modifier
(*LF) Line break modifier
(*CRLF) Line break modifier
(*ANYCRLF) Line break modifier
(*ANY) Line break modifier
\R Line break modifier
(*BSR_ANYCRLF) Line break modifier
(*BSR_UNICODE) Line break modifier
(*LIMIT_MATCH=x) Regex engine modifier
(*LIMIT_RECURSION=d) Regex engine modifier
(*NO_AUTO_POSSESS) Regex engine modifier
(*NO_START_OPT) Regex engine modifier

#Regex examples


Pattern Matches
ring Match ring springboard etc.
. Match a, 9, + etc.
h.o Match hoo, h2o, h/o etc.
ring\? Match ring?
\(quiet\) Match (quiet)
c:\\windows Match c:\windows

Use \ to search for these special characters:
[ \ ^ $ . | ? * + ( ) { }


Pattern Matches
cat|dog Match cat or dog
id|identity Match id or identity
identity|id Match id or identity

Order longer to shorter when alternatives overlap

#Character classes

Pattern Matches
[aeiou] Match any vowel
[^aeiou] Match a NON vowel
r[iau]ng Match ring, wrangle, sprung, etc.
gr[ae]y Match gray or grey
[a-zA-Z0-9] Match any letter or digit

In [ ] always escape . \ ] and sometimes ^ - .

#Shorthand classes

Pattern Meaning
\w "Word" character
(letter, digit, or underscore)
\d Digit
\s Whitespace
(space, tab, vtab, newline)
\W, \D, or \S Not word, digit, or whitespace
[\D\S] Means not digit or whitespace, both match
[^\d\s] Disallow digit and whitespace


Pattern Matches
colou?r Match color or colour
[BW]ill[ieamy's]* Match Bill, Willy, William's etc.
[a-zA-Z]+ Match 1 or more letters
\d{3}-\d{2}-\d{4} Match a SSN
[a-z]\w{1,7} Match a UW NetID

#Greedy versus lazy

Pattern Meaning
* + {n,}
Match as much as possible
<.+> Finds 1 big match in <b>bold</b>
*? +? {n,}?
Match as little as possible
<.+?> Finds 2 matches in <b>bold</b>


Pattern Meaning
\b "Word" edge (next to non "word" character)
\bring Word starts with "ring", ex ringtone
ring\b Word ends with "ring", ex spring
\b9\b Match single digit 9, not 19, 91, 99, etc..
\b[a-zA-Z]{6}\b Match 6-letter words
\B Not word edge
\Bring\B Match springs and wringer
^\d*$ Entire string must be digits
^[a-zA-Z]{4,20}$ String must have 4-20 letters
^[A-Z] String must begin with capital letter
[\.!?"')]$ String must end with terminal puncutation


Pattern Meaning
(?i)[a-z]*(?-i) Ignore case ON / OFF
(?s).*(?-s) Match multiple lines (causes . to match newline)
(?m)^.*;$(?-m) ^ & $ match lines not whole string
(?x) #free-spacing mode, this EOL comment ignored
(?-x) free-spacing mode OFF
/regex/ismx Modify mode for entire string


Pattern Meaning
(in\|out)put Match input or output
\d{5}(-\d{4})? US zip code ("+ 4" optional)

Parser tries EACH alternative if match fails after group.
Can lead to catastrophic backtracking.

#Back references

Pattern Matches
(to) (be) or not \1 \2 Match to be or not to be
([^\s])\1{2} Match non-space, then same twice more   aaa, ...
\b(\w+)\s+\1\b Match doubled words

#Non-capturing group

Pattern Meaning
on(?:click\|load) Faster than:

Use non-capturing or atomic groups when possible

#Atomic groups

Pattern Meaning
(?>red\|green\|blue) Faster than non-capturing
(?>id\|identity)\b Match id, but not identity

"id" matches, but \b fails after atomic group, parser doesn't backtrack into group to retry 'identity'

If alternatives overlap, order longer to shorter.


Pattern Meaning
(?= ) Lookahead, if you can find ahead
(?! ) Lookahead,if you can not find ahead
(?<= ) Lookbehind, if you can find behind
(?<! ) Lookbehind, if you can NOT find behind
\b\w+?(?=ing\b) Match warbling, string, fishing, ...
\b(?!\w+ing\b)\w+\b Words NOT ending in "ing"
(?<=\bpre).*?\b Match pretend, present, prefix, ...
\b\w{3}(?<!pre)\w*?\b Words NOT starting with "pre"
\b\w+(?<!ing)\b Match words NOT ending in "ing"


Match "Mr." or "Ms." if word "her" is later in string


requires lookaround for IF condition

#RegEx in Python

#Getting started

Import the regular expressions module

import re


>>> sentence = 'This is a sample string'
>>> bool(re.search(r'this', sentence, flags=re.I))
>>> bool(re.search(r'xyz', sentence))


>>> re.findall(r'\bs?pare?\b', 'par spar apparent spare part pare')
['par', 'spar', 'spare', 'pare']
>>> re.findall(r'\b0*[1-9]\d{2,}\b', '0501 035 154 12 26 98234')
['0501', '154', '98234']


>>> m_iter = re.finditer(r'[0-9]+', '45 349 651 593 4 204')
>>> [m[0] for m in m_iter if int(m[0]) < 350]
['45', '349', '4', '204']


>>> re.split(r'\d+', 'Sample123string42with777numbers')
['Sample', 'string', 'with', 'numbers']


>>> ip_lines = "catapults\nconcatenate\ncat"
>>> print(re.sub(r'^', r'* ', ip_lines, flags=re.M))
* catapults
* concatenate
* cat


>>> pet = re.compile(r'dog')
>>> type(pet)
<class '_sre.SRE_Pattern'>
>>> bool(pet.search('They bought a dog'))
>>> bool(pet.search('A cat crossed their path'))


Function Description
re.findall Returns a list containing all matches
re.finditer Return an iterable of match objects (one for each match)
re.search Returns a Match object if there is a match anywhere in the string
re.split Returns a list where the string has been split at each match
re.sub Replaces one or many matches with a string
re.compile Compile a regular expression pattern for later use
re.escape Return string with all non-alphanumerics backslashed


- - -
re.I re.IGNORECASE Ignore case
re.M re.MULTILINE Multiline
re.L re.LOCALE Make \w,\b,\s locale dependent
re.S re.DOTALL Dot matches all (including newline)
re.U re.UNICODE Make \w,\b,\d,\s unicode dependent
re.X re.VERBOSE Readable style

#Regex in JavaScript


let textA = 'I like APPles very much';
let textB = 'I like APPles';
let regex = /apples$/i
// Output: false
// Output: true
let text = 'I like APPles very much';
let regexA = /apples/;
let regexB = /apples/i;
// Output: -1
// Output: 7


let text = 'Do you like apples?';
let regex= /apples/;
// Output: apples
// Output: Do you like apples?


let text = 'Here are apples and apPleS';
let regex = /apples/gi;
// Output: [ "apples", "apPleS" ]


let text = 'This 593 string will be brok294en at places where d1gits are.';
let regex = /\d+/g
// Output: [ "This ", " string will be brok", "en at places where d", "gits are." ] 


let regex = /t(e)(st(\d?))/g;
let text = 'test1test2';
let array = [...text.matchAll(regex)];

// Output: ["test1", "e", "st1", "1"]

// Output: ["test2", "e", "st2", "2"]


let text = 'Do you like aPPles?';
let regex = /apples/i
// Output: Do you like mangoes?
let result = text.replace(regex, 'mangoes');


let regex = /apples/gi;
let text = 'Here are apples and apPleS';

// Output: Here are mangoes and mangoes
let result = text.replaceAll(regex, "mangoes");

#Regex in PHP


- -
preg_match() performs a regex match
preg_match_all() perform a global regular expression match
preg_replace_callback() perform a regular expression search and replace using a callback
preg_replace() perform a regular expression search and replace
preg_split() splits a string by regex pattern
preg_grep() returns array entries that match a pattern


$str = "Visit Microsoft!";
$regex = "/microsoft/i";

// Output: Visit QuickRef!
echo preg_replace($regex, "QuickRef", $str); 


$str = "Visit QuickRef";
$regex = "#quickref#i";

// Output: 1
echo preg_match($regex, $str);


$regex = "/[a-zA-Z]+ (\d+)/";
$input_str = "June 24, August 13, and December 30";
if (preg_match_all($regex, $input_str, $matches_out)) {

    // Output: 2
    echo count($matches_out);

    // Output: 3
    echo count($matches_out[0]);

    // Output: Array("June 24", "August 13", "December 30")

    // Output: Array("24", "13", "30")


$arr = ["Jane", "jane", "Joan", "JANE"];
$regex = "/Jane/";

// Output: Jane
echo preg_grep($regex, $arr);


$str = "Jane\tKate\nLucy Marion";
$regex = "@\[email protected]";

// Output: Array("Jane", "Kate", "Lucy", "Marion")
print_r(preg_split($regex, $str));

#Regex in Java


#First way

Pattern p = Pattern.compile(".s", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE);
Matcher m = p.matcher("aS");  
boolean s1 = m.matches();  
System.out.println(s1);   // Outputs: true

#Second way

boolean s2 = Pattern.compile("[0-9]+").matcher("123").matches();  
System.out.println(s2);   // Outputs: true

#Third way

boolean s3 = Pattern.matches(".s", "XXXX");  
System.out.println(s3);   // Outputs: false

#Pattern Fields

- -
CANON_EQ Canonical equivalence
CASE_INSENSITIVE Case-insensitive matching
COMMENTS Permits whitespace and comments
DOTALL Dotall mode
MULTILINE Multiline mode
UNICODE_CASE Unicode-aware case folding
UNIX_LINES Unix lines mode



  • Pattern compile(String regex [, int flags])
  • boolean matches([String regex, ] CharSequence input)
  • String[] split(String regex [, int limit])
  • String quote(String s)


  • int start([int group | String name])
  • int end([int group | String name])
  • boolean find([int start])
  • String group([int group | String name])
  • Matcher reset()


  • boolean matches(String regex)
  • String replaceAll(String regex, String replacement)
  • String[] split(String regex[, int limit])

There are more methods ...


Replace sentence:

String regex = "[A-Z\n]{5}$";
String str = "I like APP\nLE";

Pattern p = Pattern.compile(regex, Pattern.MULTILINE);
Matcher m = p.matcher(str);

// Outputs: I like Apple!

Array of all matches:

String str = "She sells seashells by the Seashore";
String regex = "\\w*se\\w*";

Pattern p = Pattern.compile(regex, Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE);
Matcher m = p.matcher(str);

List<String> matches = new ArrayList<>();
while (m.find()) {

// Outputs: [sells, seashells, Seashore]

#Regex in MySQL


Name Description
REGEXP Whether string matches regex
REGEXP_INSTR() Starting index of substring matching regex
(NOTE: Only MySQL 8.0+)
REGEXP_LIKE() Whether string matches regex
(NOTE: Only MySQL 8.0+)
REGEXP_REPLACE() Replace substrings matching regex
(NOTE: Only MySQL 8.0+)
REGEXP_SUBSTR() Return substring matching regex
(NOTE: Only MySQL 8.0+)


expr REGEXP pat 


mysql> SELECT 'abc' REGEXP '^[a-d]';
mysql> SELECT name FROM cities WHERE name REGEXP '^A';
mysql> SELECT name FROM cities WHERE name NOT REGEXP '^A';
mysql> SELECT name FROM cities WHERE name REGEXP 'A|B|R';
mysql> SELECT 'a' REGEXP 'A', 'a' REGEXP BINARY 'A';
1   0


REGEXP_REPLACE(expr, pat, repl[, pos[, occurrence[, match_type]]])


mysql> SELECT REGEXP_REPLACE('a b c', 'b', 'X');
a X c
mysql> SELECT REGEXP_REPLACE('abc ghi', '[a-z]+', 'X', 1, 2);
abc X


REGEXP_SUBSTR(expr, pat[, pos[, occurrence[, match_type]]])


mysql> SELECT REGEXP_SUBSTR('abc def ghi', '[a-z]+');
mysql> SELECT REGEXP_SUBSTR('abc def ghi', '[a-z]+', 1, 3);


REGEXP_LIKE(expr, pat[, match_type])


mysql> SELECT regexp_like('aba', 'b+')
mysql> SELECT regexp_like('aba', 'b{2}')
mysql> # i: case-insensitive
mysql> SELECT regexp_like('Abba', 'ABBA', 'i');
mysql> # m: multi-line
mysql> SELECT regexp_like('a\nb\nc', '^b$', 'm');


REGEXP_INSTR(expr, pat[, pos[, occurrence[, return_option[, match_type]]]])


mysql> SELECT regexp_instr('aa aaa aaaa', 'a{3}');
mysql> SELECT regexp_instr('abba', 'b{2}', 2);
mysql> SELECT regexp_instr('abbabba', 'b{2}', 1, 2);
mysql> SELECT regexp_instr('abbabba', 'b{2}', 1, 3, 1);