In this short tutorial, we are going to cover in-depth the anchor starts with to match the start of a string using regex.

First, we will explain what the anchor ^ means. Then, we are going to illustrate how to find a string that does not start with a specific character.

Anchor Starts With in Regular Expression

The caret ^ is the anchor that matches the beginning of a string in regular expressions.

For instance, the regex “^abc” denotes a string that begins with the word abc.

Simarily, the pattern “^abc.*” matches a string that starts with abc followed by any character (.), any number of times (*).

Regex to Match the Beginning of String

As mentioned earlier, we use the caret anchor to match the position before the first character in a given string.

For example, compiling the regex “^a” against “azh” will match “a”. However, the pattern “^z” does not match anything since the string does not start with “z”.

Regex Example Description
^dev matches any string that starts with "dev"
^dev.*us$ matches any string starting with "dev" and ends with "us"
^[0-9] matches strings beginning with a number
^abc\s matches a string that starts with "abc" followed by a space

Now, let’s see how we can use the anchor ^ in Java to check the beginning of a string:

    
        public static void main(String[] args) {
            Pattern.compile("^dev")
                .matcher("devwithus.com")
                .find(); // true

            Pattern.compile("^[0-9]")
                .matcher("2d position")
                .find(); // true

            Pattern.compile("^dev.*net$")
                .matcher("devwithus.com")
                .find(); // false
                
            Pattern.compile("^dev\s", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE)
                .matcher("DEV withus.com")
                .find(); // true
        }
    

As we can see, we used the Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE flag to enable case insensitivity.

Regex - Does Not Start With

There are several ways to check whether a string does not start with particular characters.

Typically, we can use a negative look-ahead assertion “(?!)” to achieve this. For example, the pattern “^(?!dev)” means a string that does not begin with dev.

    
        Pattern.compile("^(?!dev)")
            .matcher("devwithus.com")
            .find(); // false
    

Alternatively, using the anchor ^ inside brackets [] denotes a regex that means any character except those specified in the brackets.

For instance, the pattern “[^a-z]” matches any string that does not start with a lowercase character.

    
        Pattern.compile("^[^a-z]")
                .matcher("1a2b3c")
                .find(); // true

        Pattern.compile("^[^\\d]")
            .matcher("azhwani")
            .find(); // true
    

Conclusion

In this tutorial, we have highlighted the use of the anchor caret ^ that denotes the starts with pattern.

Along the way, we have seen how to match the beginning of a string using regular expressions.

Lastly, we demonstrated how to find a string that does not start with specific characters.