Anchors and positional assertions
Positional assertion does not match actual text. Their match is only based on position in the text.
Start/end of line/string
|^||at start of string and, depending on mode, also after any newline|
|$||at end of string (eventually before a newline) and, depending on mode, also before any newline|
|\A||at start of string in any mode|
|\Z||at end of string (eventually before a newline) in any mode|
|\z||only at end of string|
|\b||word boundaries which are between /\W/ and /\w/ and between /\w/ and /\W/|
|\B||anywhere \b does not match|
|\<||word starts which are between /\W/ and /\w/ (not available in most implementation, see lookarounds for an alternative)|
|\>||word end which are between /\w/ and /\W/ (not available in most implementation, see lookarounds for an alternative)|
Lookarounds permits to check a regular expressions against a text without actually matching it. Look-behind check that the current position is preceded by a text matching a given expression. To check a successful look-behind use (?<=…). The negative form is (?<!…). Some implementation allow only regular expression that match a fixed length string in a lookbehind.
Lookahead check that the current position is followed by a text matching a given expression. To check a successfull lookahead use (?=…). The negative form is (?!…).
Here is two samples that simulate word-start and word-end shorthands using lookaround:
- /(?<!\w)(?=\w)/ is equivalent to /\</
- /(?<=\w)(?!\w)/ is equivalent to /\>/
End of a previous match
\G could be used to start a match just after the previous one. It is usually used at the beginning of an expression. This is the only modifier that match a position depending on another match. The position is attached to the text and not to the regular expression which means that you can start the match of a different regex than the one that has previously match.