Sort based on the third column
sort -k 3,3 myFile
would display the file sorted by the 3rd column assuming the columns are separated by sequences of blanks (ASCII SPC and TAB characters in the POSIX/C locale), according to the sort order defined by the current locale.
Note that the leading blanks are included in the column (the default separator is the transition from a non-blank to a blank), that can make a difference in locales where spaces are not ignored for the purpose of comparison, use the
-boption to ignore the leading blanks.
Note that it's completely independent from the shell (all the shells would parse that command line the same, shells generally don't have the
sortcommand built in).
-k 3is to sort on the portion of the lines starting with the 3rd column (including the leading blanks). In the C locale, because the space and tab characters ranks before all the printable characters, that will generally give you the same result as
-k 3,3(except for lines that have an identical third field),
-uis to retain only one of the lines if there are several that sort identically (that is where the sort key sorts the same (that's not necessarily the same as being equal)).
catis the command to concatenate. You don't need it here.
If the columns are separated by something else, you need the
-toption to specify the separator.
Given example file
$ cat a a c c c a b ca d a b c e a b c d
-u -k 3:
$ echo $LANG en_GB.UTF-8 $ sort -u -k 3 a a b ca d a c c c a b c d a b c e
Line 2 and 3 have the same third column, but here the sort key is from the third column to the end of line, so
␠c␠cbecause spaces are ignored in the first pass in my locale,
$ sort -u -k 3,3 a a b c d a b c e a b ca d
Above only one is retained for those where the 3rd column is
␠c. Note how the one with
␠␠c(2 leading spaces) is retained.
$ sort -k 3 a a b ca d a c c c a b c d a b c e $ sort -k 3,3 a a b c d a c c c a b c e a b ca d
See how the order of
a b c dand
a c c care reversed. In the first case, because
␠c␠d, in the second case because the sort key is the same (
␠c), the last resort comparison that compares the lines in full puts
a b c dbefore
a c c c.
$ sort -b -k 3,3 a a b c d a b c e a c c c a b ca d
Once we ignore the blanks, the sort key for the first 3 lines is the same (
c), so they are sorted by the last resort comparison.
$ LC_ALL=C sort -k 3 a a b c e a c c c a b c d a b ca d $ LC_ALL=C sort -k 3,3 a a b c e a b c d a c c c a b ca d
In the C locale,
␠cas there is only one pass there where characters (then single bytes) sort based on their code point value (where space has a lower code point than
columns are `blank`-separated that may include other characters in addition to space and tab depending on locale.