Boardcloud Search Syntax

Operator Example Description
cat Searches for inflectional forms of the word cat

persian cat

persian AND cat

Searches for documents containing inflectional forms of the words persian and cat. The keyword AND is optional
tire OR air Searches for documents containing inflectional forms of the words tire or air
"dog basket" Performs a phrase search for the phrase "dog basket"
dog -basket Searched for documents containing inflectional forms of the word dog but not the word basket
+clamp Searches for the word clamp without generating inflectional forms
~meeting Searches for thesaurus forms of the word meeting
assemb* Searches for words that begin with the prefix assemb
<committee audit> Searches for documents that contain the words committee in close proximity to the word audit

Inflectional forms of words refer to grammatical variations of a word. Where possible variations include singular and plural forms and verb tenses.

In the context of search, understanding inflectional forms is important for search users because it helps to produce better search results.

Having an understanding about inflectional forms means that when you search for a word, you are aware that by default the search engine will be looking for that exact word as well as different forms of the word. This way, you get more comprehensive search results, making your search experience more effective and fruitful.

Example of a Search

Let’s say you type in a specific word, like "run."

In the content you are searching there can be various forms of the same word, like "running," "ran," or "runner." These different forms are called inflections. Full-text search engines are designed to consider these inflections as part of their search to provide more accurate and relevant search results.

In our example if you searched for "run," you would want the search engine to also find documents containing words like "running" or "runner." Similarly, if you search for "child," you would expect results that include "children."

Understanding inflectional forms ensures that you don't miss relevant information just because the exact word you used in your search query doesn't appear in the text verbatim. In essence, the search engine analyses the different forms of words (plural, past tense, gerunds, etc.) so that you get a broader and more useful set of results.

Imagine you're searching for information about cats. Without considering inflectional forms, the search might only find documents containing the word "cats." But with inflectional analysis, the search engine could also find documents mentioning related words like "kittens" or "feline."

Full Text Search Beginnings

A shout out for the early pioneers of full-text-search from the early 2000's. The initial article about duplicating Google search 'style' was written by Michael Coles in May of 2010. In the article he details his uses of  Extended Backus-Naur Form (EBNF) search grammar and how it was coded in c# to closely mirror Google type search operations that so many of us are familiar with today. The article can be found here: A Google-like Full Text Search