I do believe that placing a space in '%$var %' will do the same as a 
varchar and sprip it off the end. Not positive. However I believe 
something like this will do the trick:
SELECT something
FROM a_file
WHERE replace(CONCAT_WS('','.',a_file.field,'.'),' ','.') LIKE '%.$var.%'
HTH... Dan

Ron Wallace wrote:
> How can I add a space to the end of a varchar string
> in mysql?  I can't seem to do it directly, and I tried
> str_pad and other things, but no luck so far.  The db
> doesnt hold the value of the space...its getting
> trimmed somewhere(?)
> The reason I want to do this is so I can search for
> exact matches on one word strings without stemming:
> ...WHERE name LIKE '$var %'.
> If the user types 'Wash' I don't want any matches for
> 'Washington', 'Washing', etc.
> Thank You All
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