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Introduction to Regular Expressions in JavaScript

What exactly is a regular expression, and how is it handled in JavaScript? These are the questions tackled by this five-part series. In this first part, we'll introduce the topic of regular expressions (often abbreviated RegExp), and delve into objects, patterns, and variables.

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By: Chrysanthus Forcha
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July 08, 2009
  1. · Introduction to Regular Expressions in JavaScript
  2. · Simple Word Matching
  3. · Meaning of Pattern
  4. · Regular Expression Object
  5. · Simple Usage of the Literal Text Format and the Constructor Function
  6. · The Flags

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Introduction to Regular Expressions in JavaScript - Regular Expression Object
(Page 4 of 6 )

In the previous section, we wrote 

var re = /[bcr]at/

The content "[bcr]at" is the regular expression. There is a regular expression object (or regexp object) that has the regular expression as a component (property). The regexp object has other properties and methods. We shall see these in the series.

Creating a RegExp Object

You create a RegExp object using a literal text format e.g. /[bcr]at/ , or the RegExp constructor function.

The literal text format is used as follows:


The constructor function is used as follows:

new RegExp("pattern"[, "flags"])

Note that the two forward slashes do not enclose the pattern in the constructor function. The pattern is enclosed by quotation marks. The flags are optional (more on that shortly).

An example of the literal text format is,

var re = /World/

An example of the constructor function is,

var re = new RegExp("World")

The above two statements are equivalent.

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