On the Refulz.com site they've posted the first part of a series about the basics of using special characters regular expressions (both in PHP and outside of it).
With this post, we continue to explore the Regular expressions. The first post of the Learning Regular Expression series introduced Regular Expressions. The first post covers the regular expression delimiters and the “i” pattern modifier. In the language of regular expression, there is a special meaning of certain characters.
In this article they show the use of characters like the caret, asterisk, dot and dollar symbol to modify your expressions to handle special cases, matching for more than one character and the start and end of strings.