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Setting preg_replace() limit to only replace the first or a specified number of matches

If you are performing a preg_replace on a string it might well be that you do not mean to replace every match within it. Instead you might only want to replace the first item, or a specific number of items.

Accomplishing this task is easy. The last parameter of preg_replace() defines the function's limit:

preg_replace($regex, $replace, $string, $limit);

Therefore, if we set the limit to one in the following example, we will end up with the string Manchester United is better than Manchester City:


$string = "Manchester City is better than Manchester City";

$replacement = "United";

$string = preg_replace('(City)', $replacement, $string, 1);

echo $string;


While the code above only changed the first City, the code below will change Man United and Man City to Manchester United and Manchester City:


$string = "Man United is better than Man City";

$replacement = "Manchester";

$string = preg_replace('(Man)', $replacement, $string, 2);

echo $string;


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