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PHP regular expression - match from start and end of string

Hello everyone,

I'm currently working with PHP regular expressions and I have a question regarding matching patterns from the start and end of a string. I have already searched through the PHP documentation, but I couldn't find a clear answer, so I am hoping that someone here can enlighten me.

To give you some context, I am developing a web application where I need to validate user input for a specific field. The input must follow a certain pattern, and I want to ensure that it starts and ends with a specific set of characters.

For example, let's say the input should start with "ABC" and end with "XYZ". I want to check if the input adheres to this pattern using a regular expression. So far, I have tried using the regex pattern "^ABC.*XYZ$", but it doesn't seem to be working as expected.

Here's an example of what I have tried so far:

$pattern = "/^ABC.*XYZ$/";
$input = "ABC example XYZ";

if (preg_match($pattern, $input)) {
echo "Pattern matched successfully!";
} else {
echo "Pattern did not match.";

In this case, the pattern should match the given input, but it doesn't. It seems that the asterisk (*) is allowing any characters in between "ABC" and "XYZ", even if they contain other unwanted characters.

Am I using the wrong regex pattern here? Or is there another way to achieve what I want? I would greatly appreciate any guidance or suggestions you might have.

Thank you in advance for your help!

All Replies


Hey there,

I completely understand your struggle with getting the desired result from your regular expression. I've encountered similar issues in the past and I might have a different approach that could help you out.

Instead of using the dot (.) and negated character class, you can try using the specific character class with allowed characters between "ABC" and "XYZ".

Here's an alternative regular expression pattern that you can use: "^ABC[A-Za-z0-9 ]+XYZ$"

Let me explain the components of this pattern:

- "^" denotes the start of the string.
- "ABC" matches exactly the characters "ABC".
- "[A-Za-z0-9 ]+" is a character class that matches one or more of the following characters: uppercase letters (A-Z), lowercase letters (a-z), numbers (0-9), and space.
- "XYZ" matches exactly the characters "XYZ".
- "$" denotes the end of the string.

By using this pattern, you will ensure that the input starts with "ABC" and ends with "XYZ", while allowing only uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and spaces between them.

Give it a try and see if it fits your requirements. Remember to adjust the character class if you need to include or exclude any specific characters.

Hope this approach helps! Let me know if you have any further questions.


Hey there!

I understand your frustration with getting the regular expression to work exactly as you want it to. From my personal experience, I have also struggled with similar situations in the past.

To address the issue you're facing, the asterisk (*) is indeed a quantifier that matches zero or more of the preceding character or group. In your case, it means that any characters can appear between "ABC" and "XYZ", even if they contain unwanted characters.

To ensure that only specific characters are allowed between "ABC" and "XYZ", you can use a dot (.) to match any single character, along with a negated character class ([^xyz]) to exclude certain characters.

Here's an updated version of the regular expression that should work for your scenario: "^ABC[^XYZ]+XYZ$".

Let me break down this pattern for you:

- "^" denotes the start of the string.
- "ABC" matches exactly the characters "ABC".
- "[^XYZ]" is a negated character class that matches any character except for "X", "Y", or "Z".
- "+" is a quantifier that matches one or more occurrences of the preceding character or group.
- "XYZ" matches exactly the characters "XYZ".
- "$" denotes the end of the string.

With this pattern, the regular expression will now match input strings that start with "ABC", followed by one or more characters that are not "X", "Y", or "Z", and end with "XYZ". It should exclude any other unwanted characters between the start and end patterns.

Give it a try and see if it works for your specific case. Don't hesitate to ask if you have further questions.

Good luck!


Hey everyone,

I can certainly relate to the challenges of working with regular expressions in PHP. While the suggestions provided so far are helpful, I have found an alternative approach that might be worth considering based on my own experience.

Instead of relying solely on a regular expression, you could try using the built-in string functions in PHP to achieve the desired result. One possible solution is using the substr() function to extract the portions of the string you want to check, and then comparing them using a simple equality check.

Here's an example of how you can implement this approach:

$input = "ABC example XYZ";
$start = "ABC";
$end = "XYZ";

if (substr($input, 0, strlen($start)) === $start && substr($input, -strlen($end)) === $end) {
echo "Pattern matched successfully!";
} else {
echo "Pattern did not match.";

In this code, we first extract the initial substring of the same length as the starting pattern ("ABC") using the substr() function and compare it with the desired start value. Similarly, we extract the ending substring using a negative length parameter and compare it with the desired end value. If both comparisons yield true, it means our pattern has been matched successfully.

I have found this approach to be quite effective, as it provides more flexibility and avoids the complexity of regular expressions in certain scenarios. However, do keep in mind that regular expressions can be powerful tools for more complex pattern matching tasks.

Give it a try and see if it fits your specific requirements. Let me know if you need further assistance or have any more questions.

Best of luck!

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