I want to search in a long sentence (more than 1024 letters).

I have one text file (test.txt) which has one long sentence, like this:


Now I want to check which line contains the word saf. This command just shows the whole sentence:

less test.txt | grep saf

Is it possible to get a part of the sentence or should I use a command other than grep?

  • grep -o 'saf' text.text? – Cyrus Oct 19 '18 at 14:54
  • THanks! It shows the matched point. however is it possible to show the a few letters before and after of matches??? – whitebear Oct 19 '18 at 14:56
  • grep -o '.\{0,3\}saf.\{0,3\}' text.text – this will include up to three characters before and up to three characters after. But if there is a second saf and it begins within these "three characters after" then it won't be matched separately. – Kamil Maciorowski Oct 19 '18 at 15:48
  • @KamilMaciorowski It's perfect what I want. it works prety well – whitebear Oct 23 '18 at 21:44

Not exactly what you were looking for: show the matching lines and highlight the occurences in those lines:

grep --color 'saf' test.txt

Options for searching saf and displaying up to 15 characters before and after the occurences found using:

  • the standard regex syntax, first mentioned by @kamil-maciorowski in his comment on the question:

    grep -o '.\{0,15\}saf.\{0,15\}' test.txt | grep saf --color
  • Perl-compatible regex syntax with the -P option, if available:

    grep -o -P '.{0,15}saf.{0,15}' test.txt | grep --color saf
  • extended regex syntax with the -E option, if your grep has no -P option (like e.g. on macOS):

    grep -o -E '.{0,15}saf.{0,15}' test.txt | grep --color saf
  • See my comment under the question. If you add a remark to your answer about a possibility of not matching all saf-s, I will upvote it and delete my comment. – Kamil Maciorowski Oct 19 '18 at 15:53
  • Thanks @t0r0X , I tried your one too . my grep doens't have -P option somehow. and backslash before { is needed. But I appreciate your answer too. – whitebear Oct 23 '18 at 21:46
  • @whitebear Indeed, not every grep has -P, but there's yet another variant, I'll update again my answer. – t0r0X Oct 24 '18 at 0:33
  • @kamil-maciorowski I will look into it. – t0r0X Oct 24 '18 at 16:04

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