I have a query formula that looks into a table and pulls names for example:

   A                   B
1  john, andrew     blah
2  drew, mike       blah

I want it to show me all of the rows that involve drew, the query formula is select where A contains 'drew'. Both rows would show up, because andrew contains drew, but if I use the formula select where A = 'drew', nothing would show up because it is looking for an exact match. What do I do here? I was thinking maybe regular expression would help, but how would I do it?

1 Answer 1


To handle word boundaries, you need where A matches instead of where A contains. It allows the use of regular expressions such as .*\bdrew\b.*, meaning

  • containing the string "drew"
  • with word boundaries \b left and right of the string (i.e., the characters adjacent to it cannot be word characters)
  • with any other characters elsewhere in the string: .*

The last bullet item is needed because the logic of matches requires the entire content of A to match the given expression (unlike regexmatch function, which will attempt to match substrings).

So, in your case it would be

=query(A:B, "select * where A matches '.*\bdrew\b.*'")

or, if you want to also match "Drew" (case insensitive), then

=query(A:B, "select * where lower(A) matches '.*\bdrew\b.*'")
  • is there a way to use regex in countifs? how would the formula change if i use countifs. I've tried countifs(Out!$E$3:$E,".*\b"&B65&"\b.*")
    – jason
    Oct 22, 2015 at 2:55
  • Not really. countif and countifs support only the basic wildcards ? and *, which is not enough to handle word boundaries.
    – user79865
    Oct 22, 2015 at 3:00
  • Also, it looks like you are changing the question from "show me the rows" to "count the rows". Counting can be done with select count(A) or with counta(filter(...)), but this should be a separate question.
    – user79865
    Oct 22, 2015 at 3:04

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