I want to call g@ from a function.

Given an operation:

" Taken from :help g@
function! CountSpaces(type, ...)
  let sel_save = &selection
  let &selection = "inclusive"
  let reg_save = @@

  if a:0  " Invoked from Visual mode, use gv command.
    silent exe "normal! gvy"
  elseif a:type == 'line'
    silent exe "normal! '[V']y"
    silent exe "normal! `[v`]y"

  echomsg strlen(substitute(@@, '[^ ]', '', 'g'))

  let &selection = sel_save
  let @@ = reg_save

I want to call it from:

function! my_fun(...)
        set opfunc=CountSpaces
        normal! g@

But it doesn't work, nothing happens. Am I doing something wrong?

  • Normally, this is done from a mapping, though I don’t see why it shouldnt work. Do note that my_fun probably needs an uppercase start
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Oct 9, 2019 at 12:53
  • 1
    g@ needs a motion. Therefore normal! g@ does nothing. (But, for example, normal! g@$ will work).
    – Matt
    Oct 9, 2019 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


The g@ must be used with a motion, so it effectively switches to the operator-pending mode. However, that will not work in your example.

From :h :normal:

{commands} should be a complete command.  If
{commands} does not finish a command, the last one
will be aborted as if <Esc> or <C-C> was typed.

So eventually normal! g@ ends the operator-pending mode and falls back into the normal mode. Hence g@ does just nothing.

Simply supplying any motion will work (e.g. normal! g@$), but it's almost useless, as normally we want an operator, not a fixed operation. That's the reason g@ should be invoked by a mapping, like in :h g@.

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