explode() returns an array of strings. Each array element is a substring of the main string. The substrings are the fragments resulting from the explosion along boundaries specified by a delimiter string.
/* Break down the composite to get the phrases. NOTE: explode also gives the empty string on the left of ::: We don't want that. */ $phrases = explode(":::", $composite_NO_SLASHES); // get rid of first element unset($phrases);