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<?php $abs = "Bob Rob Sue"; $abby = "sometext Bob1:2 is Sue3:4 where Rob2:1 etc"; // escape each word for safe use in a regular expression, then join with pipes $words = str_replace(" ", "|", preg_quote($abs)); // build a regular expression that finds a boundary, a word, \d+:\d+, and a boundary $regex = '/\b(' . $words . ')(\d+:\d+)\b/'; preg_match_all($regex, $abby, $matches, PREG_SET_ORDER); print_r($matches);

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