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Python Regular Expressions

The regular expressions can be defined as the sequence of characters which are used to search for a pattern in a string. The module re provides the support to use regex in the python program. The re module throws an exception if there is some error while using the regular expression.

The re module must be imported to use the regex functionalities in python.

Regex Functions

The following regex functions are used in the python.

SN Function Description
1 match This method matches the regex pattern in the string with the optional flag. It returns true if a match is found in the string otherwise it returns false.
2 search This method returns the match object if there is a match found in the string.
3 findall It returns a list that contains all the matches of a pattern in the string.
4 split Returns a list in which the string has been split in each match.
5 sub Replace one or many matches in the string.

Forming a regular expression

A regular expression can be formed by using the mix of meta-characters, special sequences, and sets.

Meta-Characters

Metacharacter is a character with the specified meaning.

Metacharacter Description Example
[] It represents the set of characters. "[a-z]"
\ It represents the special sequence. "\r"
. It signals that any character is present at some specific place. "Ja.v."
^ It represents the pattern present at the beginning of the string. "^Java"
$ It represents the pattern present at the end of the string. "point"
* It represents zero or more occurrences of a pattern in the string. "hello*"
+ It represents one or more occurrences of a pattern in the string. "hello+"
{} The specified number of occurrences of a pattern the string. "java{2}"
| It represents either this or that character is present. "java|point"
() Capture and group

Special Sequences

Special sequences are the sequences containing \ followed by one of the characters.

Character Description
\A It returns a match if the specified characters are present at the beginning of the string.
\b It returns a match if the specified characters are present at the beginning or the end of the string.
\B It returns a match if the specified characters are present at the beginning of the string but not at the end.
\d It returns a match if the string contains digits [0-9].
\D It returns a match if the string doesn't contain the digits [0-9].
\s It returns a match if the string contains any white space character.
\S It returns a match if the string doesn't contain any white space character.
\w It returns a match if the string contains any word characters.
\W It returns a match if the string doesn't contain any word.
\Z Returns a match if the specified characters are at the end of the string.

Sets

A set is a group of characters given inside a pair of square brackets. It represents the special meaning.

SN Set Description
1 [arn] Returns a match if the string contains any of the specified characters in the set.
2 [a-n] Returns a match if the string contains any of the characters between a to n.
3 [^arn] Returns a match if the string contains the characters except a, r, and n.
4 [0123] Returns a match if the string contains any of the specified digits.
5 [0-9] Returns a match if the string contains any digit between 0 and 9.
6 [0-5][0-9] Returns a match if the string contains any digit between 00 and 59.
10 [a-zA-Z] Returns a match if the string contains any alphabet (lower-case or upper-case).

The findall() function

This method returns a list containing a list of all matches of a pattern within the string. It returns the patterns in the order they are found. If there are no matches, then an empty list is returned.

Consider the following example.

Example

Output:

['How', 'How']

The match object

The match object contains the information about the search and the output. If there is no match found, the None object is returned.

Example

Output:

<class '_sre.SRE_Match'>
<_sre.SRE_Match object; span=(0, 3), match='How'>

The Match object methods

There are the following methods associated with the Match object.

  1. span(): It returns the tuple containing the starting and end position of the match.
  2. string(): It returns a string passed into the function.
  3. group(): The part of the string is returned where the match is found.

Example

Output:

(0, 3)
How
How are you. How is everything




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