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Tip 1.15: Command Line Search Tips

The Command Line is the primary BibleWorks search tool. It provides powerful search capabilities, is easy to use for most searches, and is easy to access for a quick search. While other tools such as the Graphical Search Engine provide some search capabilities that the Command Line cannot perform, the Command Line is capable of handling most search needs.

In this Classroom Tip we will investigate some of the lesser-known search capabilities of the Command Line for searching on Greek and Hebrew, especially in the morphologically-tagged texts. Two powerful tools for searching on the Command Line are wildcards and range operators.


There are two wildcards to use on the Command Line.

  • The first wildcard is the asterisk *. The asterisk represents zero or more characters. For example, a search for the word heaven* would find the words heaven, heavens, and heavenly.
  • The second wildcard is the question mark ?. The question mark always represents one character. For example, a search for the word heaven? would find heavens, but not heaven or heavenly.
  • You can also combine the use of these wildcards. For example, a search for heaven?* would find heavens and heavenly, but would not find heaven, since the use of the question mark specifies that there has to be a character in that position in the word.

The wildcards can be used in place of specific letters in a word search, but they are also used to represent characters in the morphological code. Below are examples for where these wildcards may be used in a morphology search. It is a good habit to place a * wildcard at the end of every morphology code search, just in case there are extended morphology codes applicable to that search. This is important for Hebrew morphology searches.

  • In this example we want to conduct a Greek morphology search for any lemma, and the morph coding of verb, indicative, present, any voice, first person, and singular. The wildcard * is the substitute for the lemma, and the wildcard ? goes in place of the voice. Here is the search: .*@vip?1s*
  • In this next example we will search for any lemma, and the morph coding of verb, indicative, any tense, any voice, any person, and plural. The first wildcard * substitutes for the lemma, and the second wildcard * substitutes for tense, voice, and person. Here is the search: .*@vi*p*

When you type the first search on the Command Line, the popup Morphology Code Help continues to work through each step of entering the codes, even when you enter the ? wildcard.


But in the second example, when you enter the * wildcard the popup Morphology Code Help disappears. The Morphology Code Help can no longer know where you want to begin entering the code again because the asterisk refers 0 or more characters. If you want to continue using the popup Morphology Code Help, you might want to enter the second example search as .*@vi???p* with a ? wildcard in each place in the morphology rather than use the asterisk.

Range Operators

Range operators are the braces { and } and the brackets [ and ]. The range operators are used to group characters. These range operators can be used in both the lemma and the morph code.

  • First an example using ranger operators in an English text. A search for .wom[ae]n would find both woman and women.
  • Now an example using range operators on a Greek lemma. A search for .p[ai]*j@* will find all words that begin with a pi, the next letter being either an alpha or an iota, and the word ending with a sigma. We would find, for example, the words paqoj and pistoj, but not petroj.
  • Next, an example using range operators on the morphological codes. In this example we will find all of the verbs, indicative, present, active, first and second person (but not third person), and singular. Here is the search: .*@vipa[12]s

Practical Search Examples

Below are a number of practical searches where the wildcards and range operators enable you to filter unwanted search results and obtain a more complete listing of search results. You can use these searches, and others like them, to find specific lemmas
and forms for your Greek and Hebrew classes.

  • Search the WTM Hebrew morphology for  .*@vqp* provides all the qal perfect verbs, regardless of gender, person, or number.
  • Searching the WTM for .*@v??1* provides a list of all the first-person Hebrew verbs in the Hebrew Bible.
  • Searching the WTM for .*@v[pun]* finds all the piel, pual, and niphal Hebrew verbs, and only those forms.
  • Searching the BNM Greek morphology for .agapaw@v[sodnp]* finds all of the non-indicative forms, and only the non-indicative forms, of the Greek verb agapaw.
  • Searching the BNM for .*@n[gda]* provides all the oblique nouns in the New Testament.
  • Searching the BNM for .ep[aeio]?* provides a list of the words that have a prefixed preposition epi as part of the lemma. The list is not completely correct, as there are a couple of words that fit this search pattern but which do not contain the prefixed preposition. The question mark wildcard is necessary after the range operators in order to not include the stand-alone preposition epi in the search results. The question mark wildcard requires that there is at least a fourth character in the word.

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