**a**" (optional) followed by

**up to two words**, followed by "

**b**", followed by "

**c**".

The input is "x1 x2 x3 a b c" and therefore the match is "x3 a b c", since it satisfied the condition of

*up to two words*before the "b".

Match match = Regex.Match("x1 x2 x3 a b c", @"((a\s+)?(\w+\s+){0,2}b\s+c)");

However, turn the condition of

*up to two words*to be lazy, and you get the match "x2 x3 a b c", which does not qualify the expression at all (lazy or not).

Match match = Regex.Match("x1 x2 x3 a b c", @"((a\s+)?(\w+\s+){0,2}

**?**b\s+c)");

**So why do we get "x2 x3 a b c" as a result of this regex?**

This appears to be a Regex bug. There are 2 groups in the match, this non-greedy pattern is producing. The first group is the entire string "a x1 x2 x3 b c". The second group is "x3". But examine the second group's "Captures" collection and you will see 3 captures, namely x1, x2, x3. Therefore, (\w+\s+){0,2}? captures 3 instead of at most two words. Hence, I believe it's a bug.

Given the pattern, "a\s(\w+\s+){0,2}?b\s+c", the following strings should produce the following results

"a a b c" should match "a b c" at index=2 (but it matches "a a b c" instead)

"a x1 b c" should match "a x1 b c"

"a x1 x2 b c" should match "a x1 x2 b c"

"a x1 x2 x3 b c" should not match (but it does)

"a a x1 b c" should match "a x1 b c" at Index=2 (but it matches "a a x1 b c" instead)

"a a a x1 b c" should match "a x1 b c" at index=4 (but it matches "a a a x1 b c" instead)

"a a x1 x2 b c" should match "a x1 x2 b c" at index=2 (but it matches "a a x1 x2 b c" instead)

"a a a x1 x2 b c" should match "a x1 x2 b c" at index=4 (but it matches "a a x1 x2 b c" at index=2 instead)

The other pattern ("a\s(\w+\s+){0,2}b\s+c") works properly, i.e.,

"a a b c" should match "a a b c"

"a x1 b c" should match "a x1 b c"

"a x1 x2 b c" should match "a x1 x2 b c"

"a x1 x2 x3 b c" should not match

"a a x1 b c" should match "a a x1 b c"

"a a a x1 b c" should match "a a x1 b c" at index=2

"a a x1 x2 b c" should match "a x1 x2 b c" at index=2

"a a a x1 x2 b c" should match "a x1 x2 b c" at index=4

At first, I thought {0,2}? made no sense, but given the strings like "a a x1 b c", there is certainly a use for a non-greedy {n,m}.