Is there any better (and shorter) way to get index of a regex match in Python?

import re
sstring = """
this is dummy text
which starts with nothing
and ends with something

starts = re.finditer('start[s]?', sstring)
ends = re.finditer('end[s]?', sstring)

for m in starts:
    print (m.start())

for m in ends:
    print (m.end())

For me, there is only one starts and endsmatch in the string.


2 Answers 2


If you are certain that there is exactly one match, then you don't need to iterate. You could write:

start, end = re.search('start.*ends?', sstring, re.DOTALL).span()

To note:

  • Take advantage of re.DOTALL so that the regex can span multiple lines.
  • Use match.span() and destructuring assignment to get both the start and end in one statement.
  • The [s]? after start is, from a mechanical viewpoint, useless. You might want to keep it just for symmetry.

The spacing in print (something) is kind of weird; print(something) would be more conventional.


I am no python expert but I think if the pattern contains only one match group we can use re.search(pattern, string).start() method instead of iter object.

print(re.search('start[s]?', sstring).start())
print(re.search('end[s]?', sstring).end())
  • \$\begingroup\$ We expect an answer to contain an actual review. This is not a review. Please add an actual review to your answer or risk this answer getting removed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mast
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 11:18
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I am new to codereview. I will look at how to for this group. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 11:27

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