get index of element in vector in R

R – Get Index of an Element in a Vector

In this tutorial, we will look at how to get the index of an element in an R vector with the help of some examples.

How to get the index of an element in an R vector?

You can use the match() function in R, to get the index of an element in a vector. It returns the index of the first occurrence of the value in the vector as an integer. The following is the syntax –

# get index of element e in vector vec
match(e, vec)

Pass the element (or the vector) as the first argument and the vector in which you want the know the position as the second argument.

You can also use the match() function to get the index of multiple values at a time in a vector (see the examples below).


Let’s look at some examples of getting the index (or position) of an element in an R vector. First, we will create a vector that we will be using throughout this tutorial.

# create a vector
vec <- c("a", "b", "c", "d", "c")
# display the vector


[1] "a" "b" "c" "d" "c"

We have a vector of some characters.

Index of the first occurrence of an element in a vector

Let’s use the match() function to get the position of the “c” in the above vector. For this, pass “c” as the first argument, and the vector, vec as the second argument to the function.

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# get index of "c"
match("c", vec)



You can see that we get the position (or index) of “c” as 3. Note that in the above vector, “c” occurs at positions 3 and 5 but we only get the index of its first occurrence (or match) with the match() function.

If you want to get all the indexes of occurrences of an element in a vector R, use the which() function instead. Pass an equality operation (checking whether the vector value is the same as the element we want the indexes for) as the argument.

# get all indexes of "c"
which(vec == "c")


3 5

You can see that we get all the positions for the element “c” in the above vector.

Index of the first occurrence of multiple elements in a vector

You can also pass a vector as the first argument to the match() function. In such a case, the match function will get the positions of the first occurrence of each element in that vector.

For example, let’s get the positions of “a” and “c” in the above vector using the match() function.

# get index of "a" and "c"
match(c("a", "c"), vec)


1 3

We the position of “a” as 1 and “c” as 3.

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  • Piyush Raj

    Piyush is a data professional passionate about using data to understand things better and make informed decisions. He has experience working as a Data Scientist in the consulting domain and holds an engineering degree from IIT Roorkee. His hobbies include watching cricket, reading, and working on side projects.

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