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I tried this command:

[silas@mars 11]$ string=xyababcdabababefab
[silas@mars 11]$ echo ${string/abab/"\n"}
[silas@mars 11]$

I also tried to replace "\n" to '\n' and to \n . I can't use AWK or sed (this is a part from a homework exercise, and the teacher don't allow to use in this specific exercise).

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

You should use -e with echo as follows:

echo -e ${string/abab/'\n'}

From manpage:

-e     enable interpretation of backslash escapes

If -e is in effect, the following sequences are recognized:

\\     backslash

\a     alert (BEL)

\b     backspace

\c     produce no further output

\e     escape

\f     form feed

\n     new line

\r     carriage return

\t     horizontal tab

\v     vertical tab
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Use ANSI C style escape sequence $'\n' to indicate newline:

$ string=xyababcdabababefab

$ echo "${string/abab/$'\n'}"

Or use zsh to use just \n:

% string=xyababcdabababefab

% echo "${string/abab/\n}"
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In addition to above use newline by itself:

echo "${string/abab/

note the quoting to avoid \newline substitution by space
For old bash version can be suitable:

printf "%s\n" "${string%%abab*}" "${string#*abab}"
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