I want to append file text after last word of another file on a UNIX system.

File 1

& program executed successfully

File 2

This is a sample output 

I want to copy the first two words and paste them after the last word of file 2.

Expected output:


This is a sample output & program

File2 has a newline character at the end, so when I tried using cat, it prints on a new line instead of printing after the last word on the same line. Please suggest a solution using UNIX commands and the bash shell.

  • I think you mean you want to copy the first two words, not the first two characters (letters), right?
    – terdon
    Feb 18, 2022 at 15:41
  • Right.. First two words after output keyword
    – Claksh
    Feb 18, 2022 at 15:43
  • Executed successfully I don't want to append.. And also there is a space at the end of file 2 after output
    – Claksh
    Feb 18, 2022 at 15:44
  • OK, what operating system are you using?
    – terdon
    Feb 18, 2022 at 15:46
  • Unix Operating system
    – Claksh
    Feb 18, 2022 at 15:47

6 Answers 6


You can select the first 2 words of every line of file2 with:

$ cut -d' ' -f1-2 file1 
& program

So you can then use that to do something like this:

$ printf '%s %s\n' "$(cat file2)" "$(cut -d' ' -f1-2 file1)" > file3
$ cat file3
This is a sample output & program

If your file can have more than one line, and you just want the first one, pass it through head:

printf '%s %s\n' "$(cat file2)" "$(cut -d' ' -f1-2 file1 | head -n1)"

I think that terdon's answer is good if you know that the second file is short. If you don't know that it is short, or you know that it is a long enough file to want to avoid reading it into a command substitution, then you may choose to avoid expanding more than the last line of the file in a substitution like that:

    sed '$d' file2
    printf '%s %s\n' "$( tail -n 1 file2 )" "$( cut -d ' ' -f -2 file1 )"
} >file3

This first uses sed to output all but the last line from file2, and then we use a modified variant of terdon's code to output the last line of file2 together with the first two space-delimited words from file1.


You could use a little ed program:

ed -s file2 << \EOF
$r !cut -d " " -f1,2 file1
w file3

Or, as a one-liner:

printf '%s\n' '$r !cut -d " " -f1,2 file1' '-1,.j' 'w file3' | ed -s file2
  • This is the first time I see ed in an answer.
    – Džuris
    Feb 19, 2022 at 15:14

Just a funky alternative with head, tail, cut and paste:

{ head -n -1 file2; ( tail -n 1 file2; cut -d ' ' -f -2 file1) | paste -sd ' ' ;} > file3

Or if head doesn't have the -1 alternative on your system, it can be replaced with sed '$d' file2

  • Note that not all implementations of head support -1 as an option-argument to -n.
    – Kusalananda
    Feb 18, 2022 at 17:34
  • Correct! I added an alternative. :) Feb 18, 2022 at 20:28

With awk:

awk 'NR==FNR { append=$1 OFS $2; next }
prev!=""{ print prev } { prev=$0 }
END{ print prev, append }' file1 file2

with saving current line into a temporary variable prev we delay outputting the lines by one so at the END when we processed all the lines, we append a text from file1 to the last line of the file2.

ext=" ".join(f1.readline().strip().split(' ')[0:2])
k[-1]="{0} {1}".format(k[-1].strip(),ext)
for i in k:
    print i.strip()


This is a sample output & program

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