The following grep

grep -r -e -n coll *

will display

fullpath/filename:  <tag-name>coll</tag-name>

I would like to know what line has the following text, I tried adding -n, but it did not work. I tried adding | grep -n *, but it did something weird.

What I would like to see (I don't care about format) is

fullpath/filename:10:  <tag-name>coll</tag-name>
  • 1
    I see line numbers when using the -n option. Can you post the output of what you get? Nov 8 '11 at 15:58

You should put -e at the end of the options list: grep -rne coll *


no need for -r & -e !

get line number of a pattern!

grep -n "pattern" file.txt

if you want to get only the line number as output add another grep command to it !

grep -n "pattern" file.txt | grep -Eo '^[^:]+'
  • 3
    To get just the line number, it's easier to use cut, e.g. cut -f1 -d:
    – wjandrea
    Jul 27 '18 at 16:21

To grep a pattern in a specific file, and get the matching lines:

grep -n <Pattern> <File> | awk -F: '{ print $1 }' | sort -u

or using cut as suggested by @wjandrea:

grep -n <Pattern> <File> | cut -f1 -d: | sort -u


  • <Pattern> is a quoted glob pattern (use option -E for regexp);
  • <File> is the file you are interested in;
  • the first pipe awk ... filters the line numbers in the output of grep (before : on each line);
  • the second pipe ensures that line numbers only appear once.
  • To get just the line number, it's easier to use cut than Awk, e.g. cut -f1 -d:
    – wjandrea
    Jul 27 '18 at 16:22
  • @wjandrea Easier in what way?
    – Jonathan H
    Jul 27 '18 at 22:38
  • I mean the syntax is simpler
    – wjandrea
    Jul 27 '18 at 22:39
  • @wjandrea That sounds very objective.
    – Jonathan H
    Jul 27 '18 at 22:43
  • @wjandrea Sorry for the sarcasm, I edited to include your suggestion :)
    – Jonathan H
    Jul 27 '18 at 22:46

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