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# Quantifiers

A quantifier is a metacharacter that tells "how many." You put a quantifier after an item to indicate you want to match that item a certain number of times. Quantifiers are listed in Table B-1.

Table B-1. Quantifiers

Quantifier

How many times

`*`

Zero or more

`+`

One or more

`?`

Optional (zero or one)

`{` `x`}

Exactly `x`

`{` `x`,}

At least `x`

`{` `x`,`y`}

At least `x`, but no more than `y`

To use a quantifier, put it immediately after the item you want to quantify. Table B-2 shows some regular expressions with quantifiers.

Table B-2. Quantifier examples

Regular expression

Meaning

Matches

Doesn't match

`ba+`

`b`, then at least one `a`

`ba`, `baa`, `baaa`, `rhumba`, `babar`

`b`, `abs`, `taaa-daaa`, `celeste`

`ba+na*s`

`b`, at least one `a`, `n`, zero or more `a`, `s`

`turbans`, `baanas`, `rhumbanas!`

`banana`, `bananas`

`ba(na){2}`

`ba`, then `na` twice

`banana`, `bananas`, `semi-banana`, `bananarama`

`cabana`, `banarama`

`ba{2,}ba{3,}`

`b`, then at least two `a`, then `b`, then at least three `a`

`baabaaa`, `baaaaabaaaaa`, `rhumbaabaaas`

`baabaa`, `babaaar`, `banana`

`(baa-){2,4}baa`

`baa-` at least two, but not more than four times, then `baa`

`baa-baa-baa`, `baa-baa-baa-baa-baa`, `oomp-pa-pa-baa-baa-baa-oomp-pa-pa`

`baa-baa`, `baa-baad-news`

`dogs? and` `cats?( and chickens?)?`

`dog`, then an optional `s`, then ```and cat```, then an optional `s`, then an optional `and` `chicken` or `and` `chickens`

`dog and cat and chicken`, ```dog and cat and chickens```, `hotdogs and cats`, ```dogs and cat and chickens```, `dog and cats and chicken ...`

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