Word order in proximity searches

Word order is important

The order of words in a proximity search term is important. For example, the search term jim<5>sand will find the following sentence:

Jim played in the sand.

However it will not find:

Sand is where Jim likes to play.

This is because the order of the words, Sand and Jim, in the second sentence does not match the order specified in the search term. To find the second sentence the search term would need to be reversed: sand<5>jim. In this respect, the <n> wildcard is similar to Google's AROUND operator (when used with quotes) and Outlook's ONEAR operator.

The same applies to all proximity search terms. In the following list, the first two search terms use proximity searching within a sentence, the next two use proximity searching within a paragraph, and the last one uses proximity searching within a specified distance. All will find the first sentence, above, but not the second:

jim~*sand

jim<.>sand

jim**sand

jim<*>sand

jim<5>sand

Their inverses will find the second sentence but not the first:

sand~*jim

sand<.>jim

sand**jim

sand<*>jim

sand<5>jim

Ignoring word order

What if you don't care about word order? To find jim and sand in the same sentence, irrespective of their order, you'd need to specify both the original search term and its inverse, separated by an Boolean OR operator:

jim<5>sand OR sand<5>jim

Likewise for all the proximity search terms:

jim~*sand OR sand~*jim

jim<.>sand OR sand<.>jim

jim**sand OR sand**jim

jim<*>sand OR sand<*>jim

jim<5>sand OR sand<5>jim

All of the above search terms will now find both sentences:

Jim played in the sand.

Sand is where Jim likes to play.

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