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Get the first sentence of a paragraph

Posted on 2006-07-24
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Last Modified: 2008-02-26
Shouldn't be too tough, but I just don't have time right now to figure it out.

I need to be able to split a paragraph so that the first sentence goes into one string variable and the rest of the paragraph (sans the first sentence) goes into a second string variable. I need to take into account the common ways a sentence can end ("!","?",".").

Thank you.
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Question by:stengelj
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5 Comments
 
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Accepted Solution

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Justin_W earned 2000 total points
ID: 17170152
Determining natural language sentence boundaries is actually a very difficult thing to do. See the following links for additional info and reference:
http://www.cs.umd.edu/Honors/reports/Nilani.pdf
http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/emacs-lisp-intro/html_node/sentence-end.html
http://computing.fnal.gov/docs/products/xemacs/v21_1/lispref.info,.StandardRegexps.html
http://www.codeproject.com/dotnet/RegexTutorial.asp

Your best bet for easily achieving something fairly accurate would be to use .NET's regular expressions to search for something like this:
    "[.?!][]\"')}]*\s*"
     This means a period, question mark or exclamation mark, followed
     optionally by a closing parenthetical character, followed by optional whitespace.

And then you would split the original string based on the index of the first match of the expression.
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Author Comment

by:stengelj
ID: 17170192
Thanks.  I'll try it out.
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LVL 9

Author Comment

by:stengelj
ID: 17170517
Perfect.   I think the only thing that might screw it up would be a punctuated abbreviation but, that should be a problem for what I'm doing. Here's my function:

Protected Function SplitAnno(ByVal myStr As String, ByVal myType As String) As String
        Dim i As Integer
        Dim s As String
        i = Regex.Match(myStr, "[.?!][]\""')}]*\s*").Index
        s = myStr.Substring(0, i + 1) '+1 to get the punctuation
        Select Case myType
            Case "Summary"
                Return Trim(s)
            Case "Body"
                Return Trim(myStr.Substring(s.Length + 1)) '+1 to go past the punctuation
            Case Else
                Return ""
        End Select

Thanks for the quick help!
    End Function
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LVL 9

Author Comment

by:stengelj
ID: 17170523
Oops! I screwed up my function at the end with my thank you.
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Justin_W
ID: 17170571
You're welcome. However, be advised that your function may also fail for strings that don't have any matches. Also, your "'+1 to get the punctuation" strategy doesn't take the optional trailing parenthetical characters or whitespace into account.
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