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PHP manual


preg_match

(PHP 4, PHP 5)

preg_matchPerform a regular expression match

Description

int preg_match ( string $pattern , string $subject [, array &$matches [, int $flags = 0 [, int $offset = 0 ]]] )

Searches subject for a match to the regular expression given in pattern.

Parameters

pattern

The pattern to search for, as a string.

subject

The input string.

matches

If matches is provided, then it is filled with the results of search. $matches[0] will contain the text that matched the full pattern, $matches[1] will have the text that matched the first captured parenthesized subpattern, and so on.

flags

flags can be the following flag:

PREG_OFFSET_CAPTURE
If this flag is passed, for every occurring match the appendant string offset will also be returned. Note that this changes the value of matches into an array where every element is an array consisting of the matched string at offset 0 and its string offset into subject at offset 1.

offset

Normally, the search starts from the beginning of the subject string. The optional parameter offset can be used to specify the alternate place from which to start the search (in bytes).

Note:

Using offset is not equivalent to passing substr($subject, $offset) to preg_match() in place of the subject string, because pattern can contain assertions such as ^, $ or (?<=x). Compare:

<?php
$subject 
"abcdef";
$pattern '/^def/';
preg_match($pattern$subject$matchesPREG_OFFSET_CAPTURE3);
print_r($matches);
?>

The above example will output:

Array
(
)

while this example

<?php
$subject 
"abcdef";
$pattern '/^def/';
preg_match($patternsubstr($subject,3), $matchesPREG_OFFSET_CAPTURE);
print_r($matches);
?>

will produce

Array
(
    [0] => Array
        (
            [0] => def
            [1] => 0
        )

)

Return Values

preg_match() returns the number of times pattern matches. That will be either 0 times (no match) or 1 time because preg_match() will stop searching after the first match. preg_match_all() on the contrary will continue until it reaches the end of subject. preg_match() returns FALSE if an error occurred.

Changelog

Version Description
5.3.6 Returns FALSE if offset is higher than subject length.
5.2.2 Named subpatterns now accept the syntax (?<name>) and (?'name') as well as (?P<name>). Previous versions accepted only (?P<name>).
4.3.3 The offset parameter was added
4.3.0 The PREG_OFFSET_CAPTURE flag was added
4.3.0 The flags parameter was added

Examples

Example #1 Find the string of text "php"

<?php
// The "i" after the pattern delimiter indicates a case-insensitive search
if (preg_match("/php/i""PHP is the web scripting language of choice.")) {
    echo 
"A match was found.";
} else {
    echo 
"A match was not found.";
}
?>

Example #2 Find the word "web"

<?php
/* The b in the pattern indicates a word boundary, so only the distinct
 * word "web" is matched, and not a word partial like "webbing" or "cobweb" */
if (preg_match("/bwebb/i""PHP is the web scripting language of choice.")) {
    echo 
"A match was found.";
} else {
    echo 
"A match was not found.";
}

if (
preg_match("/bwebb/i""PHP is the website scripting language of choice.")) {
    echo 
"A match was found.";
} else {
    echo 
"A match was not found.";
}
?>

Example #3 Getting the domain name out of a URL

<?php
// get host name from URL
preg_match('@^(?:http://)?([^/]+)@i',
    
"http://www.php.net/index.html"$matches);
$host $matches[1];

// get last two segments of host name
preg_match('/[^.]+.[^.]+$/'$host$matches);
echo 
"domain name is: {$matches[0]}n";
?>

The above example will output:

domain name is: php.net

Example #4 Using named subpattern

<?php

$str 
'foobar: 2008';

preg_match('/(?P<name>w+): (?P<digit>d+)/'$str$matches);

/* This also works in PHP 5.2.2 (PCRE 7.0) and later, however 
 * the above form is recommended for backwards compatibility */
// preg_match('/(?<name>w+): (?<digit>d+)/', $str, $matches);

print_r($matches);

?>

The above example will output:

Array
(
    [0] => foobar: 2008
    [name] => foobar
    [1] => foobar
    [digit] => 2008
    [2] => 2008
)

Notes

Tip

Do not use preg_match() if you only want to check if one string is contained in another string. Use strpos() or strstr() instead as they will be faster.

See Also