4.2.3 Module Contents

The module defines the following functions and constants, and an exception:

compile(pattern[, flags])
Compile a regular expression pattern into a regular expression object, which can be used for matching using its match() and search() methods, described below.

The expression's behaviour can be modified by specifying a flags value. Values can be any of the following variables, combined using bitwise OR (the | operator).

The sequence

prog = re.compile(pat)
result = prog.match(str)

is equivalent to

result = re.match(pat, str)

but the version using compile() is more efficient when the expression will be used several times in a single program.

Perform case-insensitive matching; expressions like [A-Z] will match lowercase letters, too. This is not affected by the current locale.

Make \w, \W, \b, and \B dependent on the current locale.

When specified, the pattern character "^" matches at the beginning of the string and at the beginning of each line (immediately following each newline); and the pattern character "$" matches at the end of the string and at the end of each line (immediately preceding each newline). By default, "^" matches only at the beginning of the string, and "$" only at the end of the string and immediately before the newline (if any) at the end of the string.

Make the "." special character match any character at all, including a newline; without this flag, "." will match anything except a newline.

Make \w, \W, \b, and \B dependent on the Unicode character properties database. New in version 2.0.

This flag allows you to write regular expressions that look nicer. Whitespace within the pattern is ignored, except when in a character class or preceded by an unescaped backslash, and, when a line contains a "#" neither in a character class or preceded by an unescaped backslash, all characters from the leftmost such "#" through the end of the line are ignored.

search(pattern, string[, flags])
Scan through string looking for a location where the regular expression pattern produces a match, and return a corresponding MatchObject instance. Return None if no position in the string matches the pattern; note that this is different from finding a zero-length match at some point in the string.

match(pattern, string[, flags])
If zero or more characters at the beginning of string match the regular expression pattern, return a corresponding MatchObject instance. Return None if the string does not match the pattern; note that this is different from a zero-length match.

Note: If you want to locate a match anywhere in string, use search() instead.

split(pattern, string[, maxsplit = 0])
Split string by the occurrences of pattern. If capturing parentheses are used in pattern, then the text of all groups in the pattern are also returned as part of the resulting list. If maxsplit is nonzero, at most maxsplit splits occur, and the remainder of the string is returned as the final element of the list. (Incompatibility note: in the original Python 1.5 release, maxsplit was ignored. This has been fixed in later releases.)

>>> re.split('\W+', 'Words, words, words.')
['Words', 'words', 'words', '']
>>> re.split('(\W+)', 'Words, words, words.')
['Words', ', ', 'words', ', ', 'words', '.', '']
>>> re.split('\W+', 'Words, words, words.', 1)
['Words', 'words, words.']

This function combines and extends the functionality of the old regsub.split() and regsub.splitx().

findall(pattern, string)
Return a list of all non-overlapping matches of pattern in string. If one or more groups are present in the pattern, return a list of groups; this will be a list of tuples if the pattern has more than one group. Empty matches are included in the result. New in version 1.5.2.

sub(pattern, repl, string[, count = 0])
Return the string obtained by replacing the leftmost non-overlapping occurrences of pattern in string by the replacement repl. If the pattern isn't found, string is returned unchanged. repl can be a string or a function; if a function, it is called for every non-overlapping occurrence of pattern. The function takes a single match object argument, and returns the replacement string. For example:

>>> def dashrepl(matchobj):
....    if matchobj.group(0) == '-': return ' '
....    else: return '-'
>>> re.sub('-{1,2}', dashrepl, 'pro----gram-files')
'pro--gram files'

The pattern may be a string or an RE object; if you need to specify regular expression flags, you must use a RE object, or use embedded modifiers in a pattern; e.g. "sub("(?i)b+", "x", "bbbb BBBB")" returns 'x x'.

The optional argument count is the maximum number of pattern occurrences to be replaced; count must be a non-negative integer, and the default value of 0 means to replace all occurrences.

Empty matches for the pattern are replaced only when not adjacent to a previous match, so "sub('x*', '-', 'abc')" returns '-a-b-c-'.

If repl is a string, any backslash escapes in it are processed. That is, "\n" is converted to a single newline character, "\r" is converted to a linefeed, and so forth. Unknown escapes such as "\j" are left alone. Backreferences, such as "\6", are replaced with the substring matched by group 6 in the pattern.

In addition to character escapes and backreferences as described above, "\g<name>" will use the substring matched by the group named "name", as defined by the (?P<name>...) syntax. "\g<number>" uses the corresponding group number; "\ g<2>" is therefore equivalent to "\2", but isn't ambiguous in a replacement such as "\g<2>0". "\20" would be interpreted as a reference to group 20, not a reference to group 2 followed by the literal character "0".

subn(pattern, repl, string[, count = 0])
Perform the same operation as sub(), but return a tuple (new_string, number_of_subs_made).

Return string with all non-alphanumerics backslashed; this is useful if you want to match an arbitrary literal string that may have regular expression metacharacters in it.

exception error
Exception raised when a string passed to one of the functions here is not a valid regular expression (e.g., unmatched parentheses) or when some other error occurs during compilation or matching. It is never an error if a string contains no match for a pattern.

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