I constantly need to copy existing variable names or expressions as arguments for my current typing function:

// int TyrionLannister;

int JonSnow;


int AryaStark;


// int DaenerysTargaryen;

   ^ current currsor

I want to change foo() to:

foo(JonSnow, AryaStark, TyrionLannister, DaenerysTargaryen)

I have used two methods to do the job so far:

  1. use autocomplete plugin such as ycm, i can type "js", and select "JonSnow" from popup list.

  2. sometimes plugin can't help me, because target variable is commented or it's some compound expression or whatever reason, i have to copy and paste by myself.

    I have to move my cursor to the variable if i want to copy it, sometimes i use G, sometimes i use HML and a lot of {,} and j k, some times even/ seemes to be a good choice.

    Sometimes i copy all variables into different registers abc..., then ` . or gi to go back to foo(), paste from a, add comma, paste from b, add comma, etc. Sometimes i copy only one variable, go back to foo(), add comma, paste it, then repeat the process for other variables.

Method 2 is quite awkward, i hate it so much that sometimes i type the arguments manually(i know i shouldn't do it manually).

How should i change my workflow? What's your workflow for this problem?

  • Macros? Since it's either autocomplete or visit each variable for the latter create a macro that yank-appends each variable name (plus comma) to a single register. Visit each and run the macro (just @@ after the first stop). Then paste the now populated register to the funcdef. Done. Not fancy but relatively painless.
    – B Layer
    Apr 14, 2019 at 6:44
  • Thank you @BLayer , Macro is another viable option.
    – dedowsdi
    Apr 14, 2019 at 6:54
  • 1
    Autocomplete works fine if you use vim’s regular <C-n> and <C-p>. Ive never needed a better completion system than help ins-comp.
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Apr 14, 2019 at 12:27
  • I had to admit, i'm spoiled by ycm. There are 13 mappings in :h ins-comp , i was frightened away when i saw it 2 or 3 years ago.
    – dedowsdi
    Apr 14, 2019 at 12:56

1 Answer 1


As @D. Ben Knoble mentioned, I'd use <C-n> and <C-p> which will look mostly (but not only, cf :help i_ctrl-n for more information) in the words in the opened files, making the completion quite "local", and appropriate in your case.

Regarding the completion of Vim, I'd encourage you to have a look at it, my favourite ones being the path completion (:help i_CTRL-X_CTRL-F) and the whole line completion (i_CTRL-X_CTRL-L). But the tag completion is definitely worth having a look. Take them and get comfortable with them one after the other, and it will be less daunting.

  • Thanks, i_CTRL-X_CTRL-L is nice. <c-n> and <c-p> only works for keywords, it won't work for compound expression such as std::max(i, j), it also won't work for words in commented lines(maybe can be changed via some configuration). I'm considering some yank ring plugin right now. And i can't leave ycm...i'm beyond saving.
    – dedowsdi
    Apr 15, 2019 at 8:42
  • Are you sure about ` it also won't work for words in commented lines? I tried with vim -u NONE /tmp/test.c, added a line // int hello = 1;` and in the next line typed h<c-n> which completed with hello.
    – padawin
    Apr 15, 2019 at 9:08
  • As i said "maybe can be changed via some configuration". I guess some c or cpp filetype or syntax plugin stopped it from being recongnized as keywords..
    – dedowsdi
    Apr 15, 2019 at 9:24
  • By the way. Ycm also support keywords auto completion, it's marked as identifier, but i think it's the same thing.
    – dedowsdi
    Apr 15, 2019 at 9:34
  • Sorry, the fact that it was a c file was just an example, it behaves the same with any type of file, even plain text. <c-n> and <c-p> will complete any word, in comment or not, which are in the opened buffers. However if you want to complete a compound expression as the one you mentioned you'll need some external pluging indeed I am afraid.
    – padawin
    Apr 15, 2019 at 9:51

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