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Alternation Constructs 

The following table lists special characters that modify a regular expression to allow either/or matching.

Alternation construct Definition

|

Matches any one of the terms separated by the | (vertical bar) character; for example, cat|dog|tiger. The leftmost successful match wins.

(?(expression)yes|no)

Matches the "yes" part if the expression matches at this point; otherwise, matches the "no" part. The "no" part can be omitted. The expression can be any valid subexpression, but it is turned into a zero-width assertion, so this syntax is equivalent to (?(?=expression)yes|no). Note that if the expression is the name of a named group or a capturing group number, the alternation construct is interpreted as a capture test (described in the next row of this table). To avoid confusion in these cases, you can spell out the inside (?=expression) explicitly.

(?(name)yes|no)

Matches the "yes" part if the named capture string has a match; otherwise, matches the "no" part. The "no" part can be omitted. If the given name does not correspond to the name or number of a capturing group used in this expression, the alternation construct is interpreted as an expression test (described in the preceding row of this table).

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