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Don't count spaces when counting words.

, 17 Oct 2011 CPOL 53.4K 19
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Over the last couple of days I've seen numerous examples of people posting about how to count words in a sentence. Disturbingly, these postings recommend suggest counting the number of spaces in the sentence and use that as the basis of a word count.You may be asking why this is a problem. Well,...
Over the last couple of days I've seen numerous examples of people posting about how to count words in a sentence. Disturbingly, these postings recommend suggest counting the number of spaces in the sentence and use that as the basis of a word count.

You may be asking why this is a problem. Well, consider the following sentence:

The total number of words    \t     in this sentence,is 10.


As you can see, simply counting spaces isn't going to work. There's the special characters (the \t) to take care of, the multiple spaces, and the words separated by a comma without a space. So, if counting spaces doesn't work, what does? The answer is to use a regular expression, and you are going to love how simple it is. There's a simple regular expression that matches words, and takes care of all the guff demonstrated above; all you need to match a word is use \w+. Here's a quick sample:

Regex regex = new Regex("\\w+",  RegexOptions.IgnoreCase | RegexOptions.Multiline | RegexOptions.CultureInvariant);
string input = "The total number of words       \t        this sentence is 10.";
MatchCollection match = regex.Matches(input);

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This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Pete O'Hanlon
CEO
United Kingdom United Kingdom
A developer for over 30 years, I've been lucky enough to write articles and applications for Code Project as well as the Intel Ultimate Coder - Going Perceptual challenge. I live in the North East of England with 2 wonderful daughters and a wonderful wife.

I am not the Stig, but I do wish I had Lotus Tuned Suspension.

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Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionDefinition of word? Pin
Andreas Gieriet12-Mar-12 22:42
memberAndreas Gieriet12-Mar-12 22:42 
AnswerRe: Definition of word? Pin
pwasser19-Mar-12 15:23
memberpwasser19-Mar-12 15:23 
GeneralRe: Definition of word? Pin
Andreas Gieriet19-Mar-12 20:38
memberAndreas Gieriet19-Mar-12 20:38 
GeneralRe: Definition of word? Pin
pwasser19-Mar-12 20:50
memberpwasser19-Mar-12 20:50 
GeneralRe: Definition of word? Pin
Andreas Gieriet19-Mar-12 21:31
memberAndreas Gieriet19-Mar-12 21:31 
GeneralRe: Definition of word? Pin
pwasser19-Mar-12 22:50
memberpwasser19-Mar-12 22:50 
Correct. The title of your post says it all. How do we define word?
Some definitions exclude abreviations, numbers etc.
So word counting algorithms come up with different answers.
Your point is quite valid and a more complex expression probably needs to be used to get the best result.
May have to do some experimentation.
Peter Wasser

Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.
Frank Zappa

GeneralRe: Definition of word? Pin
Andreas Gieriet20-Mar-12 0:35
memberAndreas Gieriet20-Mar-12 0:35 
GeneralRe: Definition of word? Pin
Andreas Gieriet20-Mar-12 4:32
memberAndreas Gieriet20-Mar-12 4:32 
GeneralReason for my vote of 5 Very nice. Pin
USABebopKid18-Oct-11 5:20
memberUSABebopKid18-Oct-11 5:20 
General@Pete, Have updated the Regex code part, please take a look ... Pin
zenwalker198517-Oct-11 22:59
memberzenwalker198517-Oct-11 22:59 
GeneralReason for my vote of 5 I did consider your example in the p... Pin
Eddy Vluggen15-Oct-11 10:41
memberEddy Vluggen15-Oct-11 10:41 
GeneralExcellent, Pete. I've done something similar in the past, bu... Pin
Walt Fair, Jr.22-Aug-11 17:13
subeditorWalt Fair, Jr.22-Aug-11 17:13 
GeneralReason for my vote of 5 nice tip and my learn something new ... Pin
Simon_Whale11-Oct-10 5:50
memberSimon_Whale11-Oct-10 5:50 
QuestionChance to count the characters in same way?? Pin
DanielLey28-Sep-11 11:12
memberDanielLey28-Sep-11 11:12 
GeneralNice point Pin
r verma19-Mar-10 7:34
memberr verma19-Mar-10 7:34 

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