R How to Handle Special Characters in sub, grepl & regexp (Example Code)

In this article, I’ll show how to deal with special characters in functions such as gsub, grepl, and gregexpr in the R programming language.

Example Data

my_string <- "AAAAAAA[BBBBB"                 # Exemplifying character string
my_string                                    # Showing character string in RStudio console
# [1] "AAAAAAA[BBBBB"

Example: Using Double Backslash within sub() Function to Replace Special Characters

sub("[", " Something Else ", my_string)      # Replacement doesn't work
# Error in sub("[", " Something Else ", my_string) : 
#   invalid regular expression '[', reason 'Missing ']''
sub("\[", " Something Else ", my_string)    # Replacement works fine
# [1] "AAAAAAA Something Else BBBBB"

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