How to Count String Occurrences in a Text File

Linux TLDR
Last Updated:
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The GUI text editor gives you a separate panel in the footer to inform you of the number of words, lines, and characters in your text file.

Even though you can easily find the number of strings that occurred in your text file using this GUI text editor, things take a turn when you are talking about the command line.

Here, you cannot find anything in a few clicks; instead, you need to know the commands to find the number of string occurrences in a text file.

So, today you will learn a few ways to count string occurrences in a text file in Linux.

Tutorial Details

DescriptionCounting the Word Occurrences in a Text File
Difficulty LevelLow
Root or Sudo PrivilegesNo
OS CompatibilityUbuntu, Manjaro, Fedora, etc.
Prerequisitesgrep, wc, tr, vim
Internet RequiredNo

Practice Text File

We will use the β€œfile.txt” file located in my home directory with the following content that will be used to show you the examples.

This is a demo file for demonstration purposes to show you
the example of finding a string/char/word occurrence in this file.

In your case, it might be a different file,
so I hope you can apply this to those files on your own.

Thank you

So, let’s find the specific string occurrences in this text file starting with

Using the Grep Command

You can use the grep command to count the number of times the β€œfile” string appears in this text file.

$ grep -oi file file.txt | wc -l


Counting the number of string file occurrences in the text file

However, if you notice, we search for the β€œfile” string, but it is also counting the β€œfilesβ€œ, so to search only for the exact match, use the grep command with the β€œ-w” flag.

$ grep -oiw file file.txt | wc -l


Counting the number of exact matching string file occurrences in the text file

Grep and WC Command Option Breakdown:

grep -oIt will count the number of lines that contain the matching word instead of the total number of matches
grep -iIt will print each match on a separate line
grep -wIt will only search for the exact line containing matches that form whole words
wc -lIt will count the number of lines

Using the TR Command

You can also use the tr command to separate each string into a unique line and then count the number of occurrences using the β€œgrep -c” command.

$ tr '[:space:]' '[\n*]' < file.txt | grep -ic file

Use the β€œ-w” flag to output only the words that match the whole pattern.

$ tr '[:space:]' '[\n*]' < file.txt | grep -icw file

Using the VIM Editor

If you are comfortable with the VIM editor, open your file, enter in insert mode, and use the following command.



For example, if I want to find β€œfile” string occurrences in my file, I will replace the β€œpattern” with β€œfile” and press enter to find the total number of occurrences.

Counting the number of occurrences using the VIM command

And that was the end of this article.

If you have more examples of counting string occurrences in text files, do let us know in the comment section so we can include them.

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