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Regex with negatives lookahead and lookbehind

"Looking different directions" by Paul Kline at (
“Looking different directions” by Paul Kline.

Problem: Match strings that contains a single quotation mark ('), but not multiple ones together.



This is a regex for a single quotation mark with a (?<!') in the left and a (?!’) in the right. The (?<!') is a ?< look behind if not ! a single quotation mark '. The (?!') is a look ahead ? if not ! a single quotation mark '.

Java code:

import java.util.regex.Pattern;

public class RegexProblem {
  public static void main(String args[]) {
    Pattern single_quote = Pattern.compile("(?<!')'(?!')");
    String[] phrases = {
    for(String phrase: phrases){
      System.out.println(String.format("For %s is %s.", phrase,

The output is:

For  is false.
For ' is true.
For a'a is true.
For aaa is false.
For aa'aa is true.
For aa''aa is false.
For aa'''aaa is false.
For aaa''''aaa is false.