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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 a punctuation (non-word) character (that is,
       anything that is not a letter, digit or underscore), then the backslash
       just takes away the special meaning (if any) of the character following
       it.

       If the character following the backslash is a letter or a digit, then
       the sequence may be special; if so, it's listed below. A few letters
       have not been used yet, and escaping them with a backslash is safe for
       now, but a future version of Perl may assign a special meaning to it.
       However, if you have warnings turned on, Perl will issue 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 alphanumerical character as
	   the delimiter of your pattern (which you probably shouldn't do for
	   readability reasons), you will 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
	\000		  Octal escape sequence.
	\1		  Absolute backreference.
	\a		  Alarm or bell.
	\A		  Beginning of string.
	\b		  Word/non-word boundary. (Backspace in a char class).
	\B		  Not a word/non-word boundary.
	\cX		  Control-X (X can be any ASCII character).
	\C		  Single octet, even under UTF-8.
	\d		  Character class for digits.
	\D		  Character class for non-digits.
	\e		  Escape character.
	\E		  Turn off \Q, \L and \U processing.
	\f		  Form feed.
	\g{}, \g1	  Named, absolute or relative backreference.
	\G		  Pos assertion.
	\h		  Character class for horizontal white space.
	\H		  Character class for non horizontal white space.
	\k{}, \k<>, \k''  Named backreference.
	\K		  Keep the stuff left of \K.
	\l		  Lowercase next character.
	\L		  Lowercase till \E.
	\n		  (Logical) newline character.
	\N{}		  Named (Unicode) character.
	\p{}, \pP	  Character with a Unicode property.
	\P{}, \PP	  Character without a Unicode property.
	\Q		  Quotemeta till \E.
	\r		  Return character.
	\R		  Generic new line.
	\s		  Character class for white space.
	\S		  Character class for non white space.
	\t		  Tab character.
	\u		  Titlecase next character.
	\U		  Uppercase till \E.
	\v		  Character class for vertical white space.
	\V		  Character class for non vertical white space.
	\w		  Character class for word characters.
	\W		  Character class for non-word characters.
	\x{}, \x00	  Hexadecimal escape sequence.
	\X		  Extended Unicode "combining character sequence".
	\z		  End of string.
	\Z		  End of string.

   Character Escapes
       Fixed characters

       A handful of characters have a dedicated character escape. The
       following table shows them, along with their code points (in decimal
       and hex), their ASCII name, the control escape (see below) and a short
       description.

	Seq.  Code Point  ASCII	  Cntr	  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 only the backspace character inside a character class.
	   Outside a character class, "\b" is a word/non-word boundary.

       [2] "\n" matches a logical newline. Perl will convert between "\n" and
	   your OSses 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" is the name of the control character. For instance, "/\cM/"
       matches the character control-M (a carriage return, code point 13). The
       case of the character following "\c" doesn't matter: "\cM" and "\cm"
       match the same character.

       Mnemonic: control character.

       Example

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

       Named characters

       All Unicode characters have a Unicode name, and characters in various
       scripts have names as well. It is even possible to give your own names
       to characters.  You can use a character by name by using the "\N{}"
       construct; the name of the character goes between the curly braces. You
       do have to "use charnames" to load the names of the characters,
       otherwise Perl will complain you use a name it doesn't know about. For
       more details, see charnames.

       Mnemonic: Named character.

       Example

	use charnames ':full';		     # Loads the Unicode names.
	$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

       Octal escapes consist of a backslash followed by two or three octal
       digits matching the code point of the character you want to use. This
       allows for 512 characters ("\00" up to "\777") that can be expressed
       this way.  Enough in pre-Unicode days, but most Unicode characters
       cannot be escaped this way.

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

       Examples

	$str = "Perl";
	$str =~ /\120/;	   # Match, "\120" is "P".
	$str =~ /\120+/;   # Match, "\120" is "P", it is repeated at least once.
	$str =~ /P\053/;   # No match, "\053" is "+" and taken literally.

       Caveat

       Octal escapes potentially clash with backreferences. 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:

       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 (decimal), and Perl
	   already has seen N capture groups, Perl will consider this to be a
	   backreference.  Otherwise, it will consider it to be an octal
	   escape. Note that if N > 999, Perl only takes the first three
	   digits for the octal escape; the rest is 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'.

       Hexadecimal escapes

       Hexadecimal escapes start with "\x" and are then either followed by two
       digit hexadecimal 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 that is expressed as a hexadecimal escape is
       considered as a character without special meaning by the regex engine,
       and will match "as is".

       Mnemonic: hexadecimal.

       Examples

	$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 perform similar
       functionality as 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", whatever comes first. They perform similar functionality as the
       functions "lc" and "uc" do.

       "\Q" is used to escape all characters following, up to the next "\E" or
       the end of the pattern. "\Q" adds a backslash to any character that
       isn't a letter, digit or underscore. This will ensure that any
       character between "\Q" and "\E" is matched literally, and will not be
       interpreted by the regexp engine.

       Mnemonic: Lowercase, Uppercase, 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 word character (letters,
       digits, underscore). "\d" is a character class that matches any digit,
       while the character class "\s" matches any white space character.  New
       in perl 5.10.0 are the classes "\h" and "\v" which match horizontal and
       vertical white space characters.

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

       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 "Backslashed 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

       A backslash sequence that starts with a backslash and is followed by a
       number is an absolute reference (but be aware of the caveat mentioned
       above).	If the number is N, it refers to the Nth set of parenthesis -
       whatever has been matched by that set of parenthesis has to be matched
       by the "\N" as well.

       Examples

	/(\w+) \1/;    # Finds a duplicated word, (e.g. "cat cat").
	/(.)(.)\2\1/;  # Match a four letter palindrome (e.g. "ABBA").

       Relative referencing

       New in perl 5.10.0 is a different way of referring to capture buffers:
       "\g".  "\g" takes a number as argument, with the number in curly braces
       (the braces are optional). If the number (N) does not have a sign, it's
       a reference to the Nth capture group (so "\g{2}" is equivalent to "\2"
       - except that "\g" always refers to a capture group and will never be
       seen as an octal escape). If the number is negative, the reference is
       relative, referring to the Nth group before the "\g{-N}".

       The big advantage of "\g{-N}" 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.

       Mnemonic: group.

       Examples

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

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

       Named referencing

       Also new in perl 5.10.0 is the use of named capture buffers, which can
       be referred to by name. This is done with "\g{name}", which is a
       backreference to the capture buffer with the name name.

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

       Note that "\g{}" has the potential to be ambiguous, as it could be a
       named reference, or an absolute or relative reference (if its argument
       is numeric).  However, names are not allowed to start with digits, nor
       are allowed to contain a hyphen, so there is no ambiguity.

       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 with "/^/". 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 with "/$/", that is, it
	   matches at the end of the string, or before the newline at the end
	   of the string. If the "/m" modifier is used, then "/$/" 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 will not match before a
	   trailing newline. "\z" will only match at the end of the string -
	   regardless of the modifiers used, and not before a newline.

       \G  "\G" is usually only used in combination with the "/g" modifier. If
	   the "/g" modifier is used (and the match is done in scalar
	   context), Perl will remember 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 ended, or the
	   beginning of the 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.

	   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. They 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.

	   Mnemonic: oCtet.

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

	   Mnemonic: Keep.

       \R  "\R" matches a generic newline, that is, anything that is
	   considered a newline by Unicode. This includes all characters
	   matched by "\v" (vertical white space), and the multi character
	   sequence "\x0D\x0A" (carriage return followed by a line feed, aka
	   the network newline, or the newline used in Windows text files).
	   "\R" is equivalent with "(?>\x0D\x0A)|\v)". Since "\R" can match a
	   more than one character, it cannot be put inside a bracketed
	   character class; "/[\R]/" is an error.  "\R" was introduced in perl
	   5.10.0.

	   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 the
	   notation.

       \X  This matches an extended Unicode combining character sequence, and
	   is equivalent to "(?>\PM\pM*)". "\PM" matches any character that is
	   not considered a Unicode mark character, while "\pM" matches any
	   character that is considered a Unicode mark character; so "\X"
	   matches any non mark character followed by zero or more mark
	   characters. Mark characters include (but are not restricted to)
	   combining characters and vowel signs.

	   "\X" matches quite well what normal (non-Unicode-programmer) usage
	   would consider a single character: for example a base character
	   (the "\PM" above), for example a letter, followed by zero or more
	   diacritics, which are combining characters (the "\pM*" above).

	   Mnemonic: eXtended Unicode character.

       Examples

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

	$str =~ s/foo\Kbar/baz/g; # Change any 'bar' following a 'foo' to 'baz'.
	$str =~ s/(.)\K\1//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{0307}" =~ /^\X$/	  # \X matches a P with a dot above.

perl v5.10.1			  2009-02-12		    PERLREBACKSLASH(1)
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