Java Regex - Capturing Groups


Capturing groups are a way to treat multiple characters as a single unit. They are created by placing the characters to be grouped inside a set of parentheses. For example, the regular expression (dog) creates a single group containing the letters "d", "o", and "g".

Capturing groups are numbered by counting their opening parentheses from the left to the right. In the expression ((A)(B(C))), for example, there are four such groups −

  • ((A)(B(C)))
  • (A)
  • (B(C))
  • (C)

To find out how many groups are present in the expression, call the groupCount method on a matcher object. The groupCount method returns an int showing the number of capturing groups present in the matcher's pattern.

There is also a special group, group 0, which always represents the entire expression. This group is not included in the total reported by groupCount.


Following example illustrates how to find a digit string from the given alphanumeric string −

import java.util.regex.Matcher;
import java.util.regex.Pattern;

public class RegexMatches {

   public static void main( String args[] ) {
      // String to be scanned to find the pattern.
      String line = "This order was placed for QT3000! OK?";
      String pattern = "(.*)(\\d+)(.*)";

      // Create a Pattern object
      Pattern r = Pattern.compile(pattern);

      // Now create matcher object.
      Matcher m = r.matcher(line);
      if (m.find( )) {
         System.out.println("Found value: " + );
         System.out.println("Found value: " + );
         System.out.println("Found value: " + );
      }else {
         System.out.println("NO MATCH");

This will produce the following result −


Found value: This order was placed for QT3000! OK?
Found value: This order was placed for QT300
Found value: 0