I find that in visual line mode, if I press a shortcut to print the current mode, it will print n instead of V. Is this the expected behavior?

My mapping:

xnoremap <a-j> :<c-u>echo mode()<CR>

Then select some lines of text, and press <a-j>, it will print n (normal mode) instead of V (visual line).

  • Once you’ve entered your command, you drop back to normal mode. So I’m inclined to think that’s intentional, since you’re no longer in Visual. Sep 23, 2020 at 13:00

1 Answer 1


Yes, pressing some keys in Vim could switch the current mode. Still surprised?

This is documented under :h mode-switching. Obviously, here you have even two transitions: one by colon, and another one by enter key.

But, I admit, it's confusing on the first encounter. In Neovim they even invented :h <Cmd> to deal with this. But in plain Vim you have only :h map-<expr> to stay Visual, while executing script.

However, the main point is that you rarely need to stay Visual for real. Just read the bookmarks (:h '< and :h '>) and move on. Do :h gv when needed to enter Visual mode again.

  • 1
    Thanks for the explanations! I guess I can then use '< and '> to get the previously-selected lines inside a function, which are called from the maping.
    – jdhao
    Sep 23, 2020 at 13:58

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