PHP Regular Expression

PHP Regular Expression are sequence of characters used for the pattern-matching functionality.Using regular expression you can find a particular string in another string, Replace one string by another string using regular exp. and you can split a string into many parts.PHP offers verity of functions under pattern matching functionality.

There are 2 types of regular expressions:

  • POSIX Extended
  • Perl Compatible

The ereg, eregi, … are the POSIX versions and preg_match, preg_replace, … are the Perl version. It is important that using Perl compatible regular expressions the expression should be enclosed in the delimiters, a forward slash (/), for example. However this version is more powerful and faster as well than the POSIX one.

The regular expressions basic syntax

To use regular expressions first you need to learn the syntax of the patterns. We can group the characters inside a pattern like this:

  • Normal characters which match themselves like hello
  • Start and end indicators as ^ and $
  • Count indicators like +,*,?
  • Logical operator like |
  • Grouping with {},(),[]

An example pattern to check valid emails looks like this:

Function Description
ereg_replace() The ereg_replace() function finds for string specified by pattern and replaces pattern with replacement if found.
eregi_replace() The eregi_replace() function works similar to ereg_replace(), except that the search for pattern in string is not case sensitive.
preg_replace() The preg_replace() function works similar to ereg_replace(), except that regular expressions can be used in the pattern and replacement input parameters.
preg_match() The preg_match() function finds string of a pattern and returns true if pattern matches false otherwise.
Expression Description
[0-9] It matches any decimal digit from 0 through 9.
[a-z] It matches any character from lowercase a through lowercase z.
[A-Z] It matches any character from uppercase A through uppercase Z.
[a-Z] It matches any character from lowercase a through uppercase Z.
p+ It matches any string containing at least one p.
p* It matches any string containing zero or more p’s.
p? It matches any string containing zero or more p’s. This is just an alternative way to use p*.
p{N} It matches any string containing a sequence of N p’s
p{2,3} It matches any string containing a sequence of two or three p’s.
p{2, } It matches any string containing a sequence of at least two p’s.
p$ It matches any string with p at the end of it.
^p It matches any string with p at the beginning of it.
[^a-zA-Z] It matches any string not containing any of the characters ranging from a through z and A through Z.
p.p It matches any string containing p, followed by any character, in turn followed by another p.
^.{2}$ It matches any string containing exactly two characters.
<b>(.*)</b> It matches any string enclosed within <b> and </b>.
p(hp)* It matches any string containing a p followed by zero or more instances of the sequence hp.