Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This isn't at all easy to explain but easy to just show.

I have lines in a file such as:

100Dollars              3              IP  
200Dollars              3              IP
300Dollars              4              IP

I need to grep for lines that have no '3' in the second column. I tried the following:

egrep -v '3' filename

However this does not return the third line due to having a 3 in the first part of it. There's my basic question, if that makes sense.

How do I exclude what is in the first column and only grep for whatever is in the second column?

share|improve this question
You say "2nd column" then you say "third column"; which is it? – Hello71 Mar 23 '11 at 21:41
2nd column. Fixed. – roger34 Mar 23 '11 at 21:50
This question has nothing to do with bash. – Scott Jun 16 '14 at 15:57
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Can't you just do grep -v " 3 ", assuming the columns are delimited by spaces?

share|improve this answer
Gave this a shot, does not work. Opened the file in vim and it looks like it is separated by tabs in the columns, not spaces. – roger34 Mar 23 '11 at 21:47
@roger34: Then use tabs... duh. – Hello71 Mar 23 '11 at 21:49
Did, it didn't work. – roger34 Mar 23 '11 at 21:53
Try grep -v '[[:space:]]3[[:space:]]' or grep -v '\<3\>'. – Mikel Mar 23 '11 at 22:08
Mikel the second regex worked. Thanks. Now I have to investigate why it works and learn from it. – roger34 Mar 23 '11 at 22:12

How about:

awk '$2 != 3' filename
share|improve this answer

I think you want to step up to awk or grep, which can do columns (among many other things)

gawk '$1 ~ /3/ && $2 !~ /3/{print $0}' < filename

Should do it.

This looks for a 3 in the first column (Columns are numbered starting by 1 in awk, $0 is the whole line) and not a 3 in the second column, and if so print the whole line ($0)

share|improve this answer

You can use:

grep -v -P '\t3\t' filename

-P is a perl-style regular expression matcher.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.