I want to select/visualize a regexp GROUP in a vim regexp expression in vim.

By example I would like to highlight (search) a span of characters inside square brackets, having this line:

bla bla bla [Corso De Stefanis 88 interno 4](address) blabla

I would like to just select this sequence of chars:

Corso De Stefanis 88 interno 4

So I tried the regexp


Where the aim is to have the regexp GROUP \(.\{-}\) contained in sqare brackets. But in this case I select the pattern including square brackets (see screeenshot).

And if I specify the referenced group with \1, the search fails:


Where I'm wrong?

enter image description here

1 Answer 1


reading here: exclude character classes inside [] in a regex

and here: exclude character classes inside [] in a regex

I find the solution, that's:


In a sense, capture group seems not working, but you can select the "group" preceding sequence by \zs and finishing with \ze. vim regexp syntax is weird for me.

  • 1
    Try :help pattern. Searches can include capture groups, but not backreferences (the \1, etc.). \zs and \ze set boundaries for the final "match." Backreferences are still used in substitution commands, however (:help :substitute and :help sub-replace-special).
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented Mar 30, 2022 at 14:16
  • Thanks. BTW, My need is related to my vim plugin Highlight.vim. See example s and screenshots here: github.com/solyarisoftware/Highlight.vim/tree/master/… Commented Mar 30, 2022 at 15:03

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