Say I have a string that contains numbers and words, such as this one:

string = "there are 1234 words and numbers 5678 in here $999";

How would I separate the string into an ordered list containing sublists populated with words and numbers? The ideal list would look like this:

idealList = {{there are}, {1234}, {words and numbers}, {5678}, {in here}, {$999}}

I know how to extract all words and all numbers, but I can't create a list like the previous one.

Here's an example of what I tried to extract words and its output:

StringCases[string, RegularExpression["\\w(?<!\\d)[\\w'-]*"]]
{there, are, words, and, numbers, in, here}

I can also do this with pattern-matching instead of RegEx, but it doesn't get me closer to my goal.

Is my regex simply wrong, or does this problem require a tiny bit more involved solution?

  • $\begingroup$ In my view using regular expression is not good, in the sense that use of regular expression degrades the performance, it take more time. $\endgroup$
    – user1674
    Jul 5, 2012 at 4:14
  • $\begingroup$ @gaurab: in the absence of concrete evidence (e.g. timing results) to back up your claim, your words are far from being an answer. I have thus turned your "answer" into a comment. $\endgroup$ Jul 5, 2012 at 4:23

4 Answers 4


What about this?

StringSplit[string, i : NumberString :> i]

Ok, everyone's giving answers that actually work with the $, so here's an edit, as @kguler and @MrWizard suggested

StringSplit[string, i : ("" | "$" ~~ NumberString) :> i] // StringTrim
  • $\begingroup$ This works, but can you explain how it works please? $\endgroup$
    – CHM
    Jul 5, 2012 at 0:51
  • $\begingroup$ @CHM, it splits the strings where it finds a NumberString, keeping the NumberString $\endgroup$
    – Rojo
    Jul 5, 2012 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ You can also modify the pattern to use Alternatives as in StringSplit[string, i : NumberString | StringExpression["$" ~~ NumberString] :> i] or, StringSplit[string, i : NumberString | ("$" ~~ NumberString) :> i] (+1). $\endgroup$
    – kglr
    Jul 5, 2012 at 4:22
  • $\begingroup$ +1 -- however, I think you shouldn't need StringTrim after using StringSplit[string]. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Jul 5, 2012 at 9:02
  • $\begingroup$ @kguler, I edited. I had first tried that but fast and was bitten by ~~ vs |'s precedence and didn't spend a second realising that was the issue $\endgroup$
    – Rojo
    Jul 5, 2012 at 12:25

Note that Rojo's solution splits the expression containing the dollar sign as well:

StringSplit["there are 1234 words and numbers 5678 in here $999", i : NumberString :> i]
{"there are ", "1234", " words and numbers ", "5678", " in here $", "999"}

If you don't want that splitting to happen, here's one way, using a regex:

StringSplit["there are 1234 words and numbers 5678 in here $999",
            s : RegularExpression[".(\\d+)."] :> s]
{"there are", " 1234 ", "words and numbers", " 5678 ", "in here ", "$999"}

If the spaces in the ends of the strings are bothersome, you can use StringTrim[] to get rid of them:

StringSplit["there are 1234 words and numbers 5678 in here $999",
            s : RegularExpression[".(\\d+)."] :> s] // StringTrim
{"there are", "1234", "words and numbers", "5678", "in here", "$999"}

As another example:

str1 = "At 50x magnification, they'd better be paying me $1080 in 9 installments!";

StringSplit[str1, s : RegularExpression[".(\\d+)."] :> s] // StringTrim
{"At", "50x", "magnification, they'd better be paying me", "$1080", "in",
 "9", "installments!"}

The other methods presented would perform a splitting like

{"At", "50", "x magnification, they'd better be paying me", "$1080", "in",
 "9", "installments!"}

which may or may not be the desired behavior...

  • $\begingroup$ One could of course use a StringExpression[] instead of a RegularExpression[]: s : (_ ~~ DigitCharacter .. ~~ _) :> s. $\endgroup$ Jul 5, 2012 at 4:06
  • $\begingroup$ StringSplit["there are 1234 words and numbers 5678 in here $999", RegularExpression["\\$?(\\d)+"] -> "$0"] // StringTrima little bit more compact $\endgroup$
    – Murta
    Jan 22, 2013 at 0:22

I prefer the solutions given by Rojo and J.M. to the following one. But if you want to see a working version of your original approach with StringCases and RegularExpression, here is one possibility

StringCases[string, RegularExpression["([A-Za-z]|\\s)+|(\\$|\\d)+"]]

It returns

{"there are ", "1234", " words and numbers ", "5678", " in here ","$999"}

and as J.M. suggests above, apply StringTrim if desired. Handling decimals could also easily be added.

  • $\begingroup$ Instead of the pattern [A-Za-z] in the regex, you could use [[:alpha:]]. $\endgroup$ Jul 5, 2012 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ Ah nice, I couldn't think of a more proper RegEx. Only ick is that there are spaces before and after " words and numbers ". $\endgroup$
    – CHM
    Jul 8, 2012 at 16:32

Further variations:

using StringReplace:

List @@ StringTrim /@ StringReplace[string, 
    a : Except[{"$", DigitCharacter}] .. | NumberString | ("$" ~~ NumberString) :> {a}]

or, using the same replacement rule in StringCases:

 StringTrim /@ StringCases[string, 
   a : Except[{"$", DigitCharacter}] .. | NumberString | ("$" ~~ NumberString) :> {a}]

both yield:

enter image description here


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