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PERLREBACKSLASH(1)		 Perl Programmers Reference Guide	       PERLREBACKSLASH(1)

NAME
       perlrebackslash - Perl Regular Expression Backslash Sequences and Escapes

DESCRIPTION
       The top level documentation about Perl regular expressions is found in perlre.

       This document describes all backslash and escape sequences. After explaining the role of
       the backslash, it lists all the sequences that have a special meaning in Perl regular
       expressions (in alphabetical order), then describes each of them.

       Most sequences are described in detail in different documents; the primary purpose of this
       document is to have a quick reference guide describing all backslash and escape sequences.

   The backslash
       In a regular expression, the backslash can perform one of two tasks: it either takes away
       the special meaning of the character following it (for instance, "\|" matches a vertical
       bar, it's not an alternation), or it is the start of a backslash or escape sequence.

       The rules determining what it is are quite simple: if the character following the
       backslash is an ASCII punctuation (non-word) character (that is, anything that is not a
       letter, digit, or underscore), then the backslash just takes away any special meaning of
       the character following it.

       If the character following the backslash is an ASCII letter or an ASCII digit, then the
       sequence may be special; if so, it's listed below. A few letters have not been used yet,
       so escaping them with a backslash doesn't change them to be special.  A future version of
       Perl may assign a special meaning to them, so if you have warnings turned on, Perl issues
       a warning if you use such a sequence.  [1].

       It is however guaranteed that backslash or escape sequences never have a punctuation
       character following the backslash, not now, and not in a future version of Perl 5. So it
       is safe to put a backslash in front of a non-word character.

       Note that the backslash itself is special; if you want to match a backslash, you have to
       escape the backslash with a backslash: "/\\/" matches a single backslash.

       [1] There is one exception. If you use an alphanumeric character as the delimiter of your
	   pattern (which you probably shouldn't do for readability reasons), you have to escape
	   the delimiter if you want to match it. Perl won't warn then. See also "Gory details of
	   parsing quoted constructs" in perlop.

   All the sequences and escapes
       Those not usable within a bracketed character class (like "[\da-z]") are marked as "Not in
       []."

	\000		  Octal escape sequence.  See also \o{}.
	\1		  Absolute backreference.  Not in [].
	\a		  Alarm or bell.
	\A		  Beginning of string.	Not in [].
	\b		  Word/non-word boundary. (Backspace in []).
	\B		  Not a word/non-word boundary.  Not in [].
	\cX		  Control-X
	\C		  Single octet, even under UTF-8.  Not in [].
	\d		  Character class for digits.
	\D		  Character class for non-digits.
	\e		  Escape character.
	\E		  Turn off \Q, \L and \U processing.  Not in [].
	\f		  Form feed.
	\F		  Foldcase till \E.  Not in [].
	\g{}, \g1	  Named, absolute or relative backreference.  Not in []
	\G		  Pos assertion.  Not in [].
	\h		  Character class for horizontal whitespace.
	\H		  Character class for non horizontal whitespace.
	\k{}, \k<>, \k''  Named backreference.	Not in [].
	\K		  Keep the stuff left of \K.  Not in [].
	\l		  Lowercase next character.  Not in [].
	\L		  Lowercase till \E.  Not in [].
	\n		  (Logical) newline character.
	\N		  Any character but newline.  Experimental.  Not in [].
	\N{}		  Named or numbered (Unicode) character or sequence.
	\o{}		  Octal escape sequence.
	\p{}, \pP	  Character with the given Unicode property.
	\P{}, \PP	  Character without the given Unicode property.
	\Q		  Quote (disable) pattern metacharacters till \E.  Not
			  in [].
	\r		  Return character.
	\R		  Generic new line.  Not in [].
	\s		  Character class for whitespace.
	\S		  Character class for non whitespace.
	\t		  Tab character.
	\u		  Titlecase next character.  Not in [].
	\U		  Uppercase till \E.  Not in [].
	\v		  Character class for vertical whitespace.
	\V		  Character class for non vertical whitespace.
	\w		  Character class for word characters.
	\W		  Character class for non-word characters.
	\x{}, \x00	  Hexadecimal escape sequence.
	\X		  Unicode "extended grapheme cluster".	Not in [].
	\z		  End of string.  Not in [].
	\Z		  End of string.  Not in [].

   Character Escapes
       Fixed characters

       A handful of characters have a dedicated character escape. The following table shows them,
       along with their ASCII code points (in decimal and hex), their ASCII name, the control
       escape on ASCII platforms and a short description.  (For EBCDIC platforms, see "OPERATOR
       DIFFERENCES" in perlebcdic.)

	Seq.  Code Point  ASCII   Cntrl   Description.
	      Dec    Hex
	 \a	7     07    BEL    \cG	  alarm or bell
	 \b	8     08     BS    \cH	  backspace [1]
	 \e    27     1B    ESC    \c[	  escape character
	 \f    12     0C     FF    \cL	  form feed
	 \n    10     0A     LF    \cJ	  line feed [2]
	 \r    13     0D     CR    \cM	  carriage return
	 \t	9     09    TAB    \cI	  tab

       [1] "\b" is the backspace character only inside a character class. Outside a character
	   class, "\b" is a word/non-word boundary.

       [2] "\n" matches a logical newline. Perl converts between "\n" and your OS's native
	   newline character when reading from or writing to text files.

       Example

	$str =~ /\t/;	# Matches if $str contains a (horizontal) tab.

       Control characters

       "\c" is used to denote a control character; the character following "\c" determines the
       value of the construct.	For example the value of "\cA" is chr(1), and the value of "\cb"
       is chr(2), etc.	The gory details are in "Regexp Quote-Like Operators" in perlop.  A
       complete list of what chr(1), etc. means for ASCII and EBCDIC platforms is in "OPERATOR
       DIFFERENCES" in perlebcdic.

       Note that "\c\" alone at the end of a regular expression (or doubled-quoted string) is not
       valid.  The backslash must be followed by another character.  That is, "\c\X" means
       "chr(28) . 'X'" for all characters X.

       To write platform-independent code, you must use "\N{NAME}" instead, like "\N{ESCAPE}" or
       "\N{U+001B}", see charnames.

       Mnemonic: control character.

       Example

	$str =~ /\cK/;	# Matches if $str contains a vertical tab (control-K).

       Named or numbered characters and character sequences

       Unicode characters have a Unicode name and numeric code point (ordinal) value.  Use the
       "\N{}" construct to specify a character by either of these values.  Certain sequences of
       characters also have names.

       To specify by name, the name of the character or character sequence goes between the curly
       braces.

       To specify a character by Unicode code point, use the form "\N{U+code point}", where code
       point is a number in hexadecimal that gives the code point that Unicode has assigned to
       the desired character.  It is customary but not required to use leading zeros to pad the
       number to 4 digits.  Thus "\N{U+0041}" means "LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A", and you will rarely
       see it written without the two leading zeros.  "\N{U+0041}" means "A" even on EBCDIC
       machines (where the ordinal value of "A" is not 0x41).

       It is even possible to give your own names to characters and character sequences.  For
       details, see charnames.

       (There is an expanded internal form that you may see in debug output: "\N{U+code
       point.code point...}".  The "..." means any number of these code points separated by dots.
       This represents the sequence formed by the characters.  This is an internal form only,
       subject to change, and you should not try to use it yourself.)

       Mnemonic: Named character.

       Note that a character or character sequence expressed as a named or numbered character is
       considered a character without special meaning by the regex engine, and will match "as
       is".

       Example

	$str =~ /\N{THAI CHARACTER SO SO}/;  # Matches the Thai SO SO character

	use charnames 'Cyrillic';	     # Loads Cyrillic names.
	$str =~ /\N{ZHE}\N{KA}/;	     # Match "ZHE" followed by "KA".

       Octal escapes

       There are two forms of octal escapes.  Each is used to specify a character by its code
       point specified in octal notation.

       One form, available starting in Perl 5.14 looks like "\o{...}", where the dots represent
       one or more octal digits.  It can be used for any Unicode character.

       It was introduced to avoid the potential problems with the other form, available in all
       Perls.  That form consists of a backslash followed by three octal digits.  One problem
       with this form is that it can look exactly like an old-style backreference (see
       "Disambiguation rules between old-style octal escapes and backreferences" below.)  You can
       avoid this by making the first of the three digits always a zero, but that makes \077 the
       largest code point specifiable.

       In some contexts, a backslash followed by two or even one octal digits may be interpreted
       as an octal escape, sometimes with a warning, and because of some bugs, sometimes with
       surprising results.  Also, if you are creating a regex out of smaller snippets
       concatenated together, and you use fewer than three digits, the beginning of one snippet
       may be interpreted as adding digits to the ending of the snippet before it.  See "Absolute
       referencing" for more discussion and examples of the snippet problem.

       Note that a character expressed as an octal escape is considered a character without
       special meaning by the regex engine, and will match "as is".

       To summarize, the "\o{}" form is always safe to use, and the other form is safe to use for
       code points through \077 when you use exactly three digits to specify them.

       Mnemonic: 0ctal or octal.

       Examples (assuming an ASCII platform)

	$str = "Perl";
	$str =~ /\o{120}/;  # Match, "\120" is "P".
	$str =~ /\120/;     # Same.
	$str =~ /\o{120}+/; # Match, "\120" is "P", it's repeated at least once
	$str =~ /\120+/;    # Same.
	$str =~ /P\053/;    # No match, "\053" is "+" and taken literally.
	/\o{23073}/	    # Black foreground, white background smiling face.
	/\o{4801234567}/    # Raises a warning, and yields chr(4)

       Disambiguation rules between old-style octal escapes and backreferences

       Octal escapes of the "\000" form outside of bracketed character classes potentially clash
       with old-style backreferences.  (see "Absolute referencing" below).  They both consist of
       a backslash followed by numbers.  So Perl has to use heuristics to determine whether it is
       a backreference or an octal escape.  Perl uses the following rules to disambiguate:

       1.  If the backslash is followed by a single digit, it's a backreference.

       2.  If the first digit following the backslash is a 0, it's an octal escape.

       3.  If the number following the backslash is N (in decimal), and Perl already has seen N
	   capture groups, Perl considers this a backreference.  Otherwise, it considers it an
	   octal escape. If N has more than three digits, Perl takes only the first three for the
	   octal escape; the rest are matched as is.

	    my $pat  = "(" x 999;
	       $pat .= "a";
	       $pat .= ")" x 999;
	    /^($pat)\1000$/;   #  Matches 'aa'; there are 1000 capture groups.
	    /^$pat\1000$/;     #  Matches 'a@0'; there are 999 capture groups
			       #    and \1000 is seen as \100 (a '@') and a '0'

       You can force a backreference interpretation always by using the "\g{...}" form.  You can
       the force an octal interpretation always by using the "\o{...}" form, or for numbers up
       through \077 (= 63 decimal), by using three digits, beginning with a "0".

       Hexadecimal escapes

       Like octal escapes, there are two forms of hexadecimal escapes, but both start with the
       same thing, "\x".  This is followed by either exactly two hexadecimal digits forming a
       number, or a hexadecimal number of arbitrary length surrounded by curly braces. The
       hexadecimal number is the code point of the character you want to express.

       Note that a character expressed as one of these escapes is considered a character without
       special meaning by the regex engine, and will match "as is".

       Mnemonic: hexadecimal.

       Examples (assuming an ASCII platform)

	$str = "Perl";
	$str =~ /\x50/;    # Match, "\x50" is "P".
	$str =~ /\x50+/;   # Match, "\x50" is "P", it is repeated at least once
	$str =~ /P\x2B/;   # No match, "\x2B" is "+" and taken literally.

	/\x{2603}\x{2602}/ # Snowman with an umbrella.
			   # The Unicode character 2603 is a snowman,
			   # the Unicode character 2602 is an umbrella.
	/\x{263B}/	   # Black smiling face.
	/\x{263b}/	   # Same, the hex digits A - F are case insensitive.

   Modifiers
       A number of backslash sequences have to do with changing the character, or characters
       following them. "\l" will lowercase the character following it, while "\u" will uppercase
       (or, more accurately, titlecase) the character following it. They provide functionality
       similar to the functions "lcfirst" and "ucfirst".

       To uppercase or lowercase several characters, one might want to use "\L" or "\U", which
       will lowercase/uppercase all characters following them, until either the end of the
       pattern or the next occurrence of "\E", whichever comes first. They provide functionality
       similar to what the functions "lc" and "uc" provide.

       "\Q" is used to quote (disable) pattern metacharacters, up to the next "\E" or the end of
       the pattern. "\Q" adds a backslash to any character that could have special meaning to
       Perl.  In the ASCII range, it quotes every character that isn't a letter, digit, or
       underscore.  See "quotemeta" in perlfunc for details on what gets quoted for non-ASCII
       code points.  Using this ensures that any character between "\Q" and "\E" will be matched
       literally, not interpreted as a metacharacter by the regex engine.

       "\F" can be used to casefold all characters following, up to the next "\E" or the end of
       the pattern. It provides the functionality similar to the "fc" function.

       Mnemonic: Lowercase, Uppercase, Fold-case, Quotemeta, End.

       Examples

	$sid	 = "sid";
	$greg	 = "GrEg";
	$miranda = "(Miranda)";
	$str	 =~ /\u$sid/;	     # Matches 'Sid'
	$str	 =~ /\L$greg/;	     # Matches 'greg'
	$str	 =~ /\Q$miranda\E/;  # Matches '(Miranda)', as if the pattern
				     #	 had been written as /\(Miranda\)/

   Character classes
       Perl regular expressions have a large range of character classes. Some of the character
       classes are written as a backslash sequence. We will briefly discuss those here; full
       details of character classes can be found in perlrecharclass.

       "\w" is a character class that matches any single word character (letters, digits, Unicode
       marks, and connector punctuation (like the underscore)).  "\d" is a character class that
       matches any decimal digit, while the character class "\s" matches any whitespace
       character.  New in perl 5.10.0 are the classes "\h" and "\v" which match horizontal and
       vertical whitespace characters.

       The exact set of characters matched by "\d", "\s", and "\w" varies depending on various
       pragma and regular expression modifiers.  It is possible to restrict the match to the
       ASCII range by using the "/a" regular expression modifier.  See perlrecharclass.

       The uppercase variants ("\W", "\D", "\S", "\H", and "\V") are character classes that
       match, respectively, any character that isn't a word character, digit, whitespace,
       horizontal whitespace, or vertical whitespace.

       Mnemonics: word, digit, space, horizontal, vertical.

       Unicode classes

       "\pP" (where "P" is a single letter) and "\p{Property}" are used to match a character that
       matches the given Unicode property; properties include things like "letter", or "thai
       character". Capitalizing the sequence to "\PP" and "\P{Property}" make the sequence match
       a character that doesn't match the given Unicode property. For more details, see
       "Backslash sequences" in perlrecharclass and "Unicode Character Properties" in
       perlunicode.

       Mnemonic: property.

   Referencing
       If capturing parenthesis are used in a regular expression, we can refer to the part of the
       source string that was matched, and match exactly the same thing. There are three ways of
       referring to such backreference: absolutely, relatively, and by name.

       Absolute referencing

       Either "\gN" (starting in Perl 5.10.0), or "\N" (old-style) where N is a positive
       (unsigned) decimal number of any length is an absolute reference to a capturing group.

       N refers to the Nth set of parentheses, so "\gN" refers to whatever has been matched by
       that set of parentheses.  Thus "\g1" refers to the first capture group in the regex.

       The "\gN" form can be equivalently written as "\g{N}" which avoids ambiguity when building
       a regex by concatenating shorter strings.  Otherwise if you had a regex "qr/$a$b/", and $a
       contained "\g1", and $b contained "37", you would get "/\g137/" which is probably not what
       you intended.

       In the "\N" form, N must not begin with a "0", and there must be at least N capturing
       groups, or else N is considered an octal escape (but something like "\18" is the same as
       "\0018"; that is, the octal escape "\001" followed by a literal digit "8").

       Mnemonic: group.

       Examples

	/(\w+) \g1/;	# Finds a duplicated word, (e.g. "cat cat").
	/(\w+) \1/;	# Same thing; written old-style
	/(.)(.)\g2\g1/;  # Match a four letter palindrome (e.g. "ABBA").

       Relative referencing

       "\g-N" (starting in Perl 5.10.0) is used for relative addressing.  (It can be written as
       "\g{-N".)  It refers to the Nth group before the "\g{-N}".

       The big advantage of this form is that it makes it much easier to write patterns with
       references that can be interpolated in larger patterns, even if the larger pattern also
       contains capture groups.

       Examples

	/(A)	    # Group 1
	 (	    # Group 2
	   (B)	    # Group 3
	   \g{-1}   # Refers to group 3 (B)
	   \g{-3}   # Refers to group 1 (A)
	 )
	/x;	    # Matches "ABBA".

	my $qr = qr /(.)(.)\g{-2}\g{-1}/;  # Matches 'abab', 'cdcd', etc.
	/$qr$qr/			   # Matches 'ababcdcd'.

       Named referencing

       "\g{name}" (starting in Perl 5.10.0) can be used to back refer to a named capture group,
       dispensing completely with having to think about capture buffer positions.

       To be compatible with .Net regular expressions, "\g{name}" may also be written as
       "\k{name}", "\k<name>" or "\k'name'".

       To prevent any ambiguity, name must not start with a digit nor contain a hyphen.

       Examples

	/(?<word>\w+) \g{word}/ # Finds duplicated word, (e.g. "cat cat")
	/(?<word>\w+) \k{word}/ # Same.
	/(?<word>\w+) \k<word>/ # Same.
	/(?<letter1>.)(?<letter2>.)\g{letter2}\g{letter1}/
				# Match a four letter palindrome (e.g. "ABBA")

   Assertions
       Assertions are conditions that have to be true; they don't actually match parts of the
       substring. There are six assertions that are written as backslash sequences.

       \A  "\A" only matches at the beginning of the string. If the "/m" modifier isn't used,
	   then "/\A/" is equivalent to "/^/". However, if the "/m" modifier is used, then "/^/"
	   matches internal newlines, but the meaning of "/\A/" isn't changed by the "/m"
	   modifier. "\A" matches at the beginning of the string regardless whether the "/m"
	   modifier is used.

       \z, \Z
	   "\z" and "\Z" match at the end of the string. If the "/m" modifier isn't used, then
	   "/\Z/" is equivalent to "/$/"; that is, it matches at the end of the string, or one
	   before the newline at the end of the string. If the "/m" modifier is used, then "/$/"
	   matches at internal newlines, but the meaning of "/\Z/" isn't changed by the "/m"
	   modifier. "\Z" matches at the end of the string (or just before a trailing newline)
	   regardless whether the "/m" modifier is used.

	   "\z" is just like "\Z", except that it does not match before a trailing newline. "\z"
	   matches at the end of the string only, regardless of the modifiers used, and not just
	   before a newline.  It is how to anchor the match to the true end of the string under
	   all conditions.

       \G  "\G" is usually used only in combination with the "/g" modifier. If the "/g" modifier
	   is used and the match is done in scalar context, Perl remembers where in the source
	   string the last match ended, and the next time, it will start the match from where it
	   ended the previous time.

	   "\G" matches the point where the previous match on that string ended, or the beginning
	   of that string if there was no previous match.

	   Mnemonic: Global.

       \b, \B
	   "\b" matches at any place between a word and a non-word character; "\B" matches at any
	   place between characters where "\b" doesn't match. "\b" and "\B" assume there's a non-
	   word character before the beginning and after the end of the source string; so "\b"
	   will match at the beginning (or end) of the source string if the source string begins
	   (or ends) with a word character. Otherwise, "\B" will match.

	   Do not use something like "\b=head\d\b" and expect it to match the beginning of a
	   line.  It can't, because for there to be a boundary before the non-word "=", there
	   must be a word character immediately previous.  All boundary determinations look for
	   word characters alone, not for non-words characters nor for string ends.  It may help
	   to understand how <\b> and <\B> work by equating them as follows:

	       \b  really means    (?:(?<=\w)(?!\w)|(?<!\w)(?=\w))
	       \B  really means    (?:(?<=\w)(?=\w)|(?<!\w)(?!\w))

	   Mnemonic: boundary.

       Examples

	 "cat"	 =~ /\Acat/;	 # Match.
	 "cat"	 =~ /cat\Z/;	 # Match.
	 "cat\n" =~ /cat\Z/;	 # Match.
	 "cat\n" =~ /cat\z/;	 # No match.

	 "cat"	 =~ /\bcat\b/;	 # Matches.
	 "cats"  =~ /\bcat\b/;	 # No match.
	 "cat"	 =~ /\bcat\B/;	 # No match.
	 "cats"  =~ /\bcat\B/;	 # Match.

	 while ("cat dog" =~ /(\w+)/g) {
	     print $1;		 # Prints 'catdog'
	 }
	 while ("cat dog" =~ /\G(\w+)/g) {
	     print $1;		 # Prints 'cat'
	 }

   Misc
       Here we document the backslash sequences that don't fall in one of the categories above.
       These are:

       \C  "\C" always matches a single octet, even if the source string is encoded in UTF-8
	   format, and the character to be matched is a multi-octet character.	"\C" was
	   introduced in perl 5.6.  This is very dangerous, because it violates the logical
	   character abstraction and can cause UTF-8 sequences to become malformed.

	   Mnemonic: oCtet.

       \K  This appeared in perl 5.10.0. Anything matched left of "\K" is not included in $&, and
	   will not be replaced if the pattern is used in a substitution. This lets you write
	   "s/PAT1 \K PAT2/REPL/x" instead of "s/(PAT1) PAT2/${1}REPL/x" or "s/(?<=PAT1)
	   PAT2/REPL/x".

	   Mnemonic: Keep.

       \N  This is an experimental feature new to perl 5.12.0.	It matches any character that is
	   not a newline.  It is a short-hand for writing "[^\n]", and is identical to the "."
	   metasymbol, except under the "/s" flag, which changes the meaning of ".", but not
	   "\N".

	   Note that "\N{...}" can mean a named or numbered character .

	   Mnemonic: Complement of \n.

       \R  "\R" matches a generic newline; that is, anything considered a linebreak sequence by
	   Unicode. This includes all characters matched by "\v" (vertical whitespace), and the
	   multi character sequence "\x0D\x0A" (carriage return followed by a line feed,
	   sometimes called the network newline; it's the end of line sequence used in Microsoft
	   text files opened in binary mode). "\R" is equivalent to "(?>\x0D\x0A|\v)".	(The
	   reason it doesn't backtrack is that the sequence is considered inseparable.	That
	   means that

	    "\x0D\x0A" =~ /^\R\x0A$/   # No match

	   fails, because the "\R" matches the entire string, and won't backtrack to match just
	   the "\x0D".)  Since "\R" can match a sequence of more than one character, it cannot be
	   put inside a bracketed character class; "/[\R]/" is an error; use "\v" instead.  "\R"
	   was introduced in perl 5.10.0.

	   Note that this does not respect any locale that might be in effect; it matches
	   according to the platform's native character set.

	   Mnemonic: none really. "\R" was picked because PCRE already uses "\R", and more
	   importantly because Unicode recommends such a regular expression metacharacter, and
	   suggests "\R" as its notation.

       \X  This matches a Unicode extended grapheme cluster.

	   "\X" matches quite well what normal (non-Unicode-programmer) usage would consider a
	   single character.  As an example, consider a G with some sort of diacritic mark, such
	   as an arrow.  There is no such single character in Unicode, but one can be composed by
	   using a G followed by a Unicode "COMBINING UPWARDS ARROW BELOW", and would be
	   displayed by Unicode-aware software as if it were a single character.

	   Mnemonic: eXtended Unicode character.

       Examples

	"\x{256}" =~ /^\C\C$/;	  # Match as chr(0x256) takes 2 octets in UTF-8.

	$str =~ s/foo\Kbar/baz/g; # Change any 'bar' following a 'foo' to 'baz'
	$str =~ s/(.)\K\g1//g;	  # Delete duplicated characters.

	"\n"   =~ /^\R$/;	  # Match, \n	is a generic newline.
	"\r"   =~ /^\R$/;	  # Match, \r	is a generic newline.
	"\r\n" =~ /^\R$/;	  # Match, \r\n is a generic newline.

	"P\x{307}" =~ /^\X$/	 # \X matches a P with a dot above.

perl v5.16.3				    2013-03-04			       PERLREBACKSLASH(1)
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