Let's take a look at the example below.

function! Print (text)
    echo a:text

function! Mapping_test (parameter)
    nnoremap m1 :call Print (a:parameter)<CR>
    nnoremap m2 :call Print ("hello")<CR>
    execute 'nnoremap m3 :call Print ("' . a:parameter . '")<CR>'
    execute 'command! -nargs=0 MTest :call Print ("' . a:parameter . '")'

call Mapping_test ("hello world")

m1 mapping produces two errors:

E121: Undefined variable: a:parameter                                                                                                                                                                                                               
E116: Invalid arguments for function Print

m2 and m3 work fine. So calling function with string literal is fine, using execute is also ok, but why m1 does not work?

Basically, I could take m3 and be happy, but if I change argument of Mapping_test() from string literal to an array then m3 does not work either.

call Mapping_test (["hello world"])


E730: Using a List as a String

I even tried to use command, but result is the same, when passing List as a:parameter, error occurs.

So, is there any possible way I can pass argument (here a:parameter) to a function call (in a mapping) which type is not a String?


1 Answer 1


Mappings always execute in the global context. That is, they don't "remember" that they were defined inside a function, so they can't access a: variables directly.

As for the E730: Using a List as a String error, you can try using type() and join():

function! Mapping_test (parameter)
    nnoremap m1 :call Print (a:parameter)<CR>
    nnoremap m2 :call Print ("hello")<CR>
    execute 'nnoremap m3 :call Print ("' . (type(a:parameter) == type([]) ? join(a:parameter, '') : a:parameter) . '")<CR>'
    execute 'command! -nargs=0 MTest :call Print ("' . (type(a:parameter) == type([]) ? join(a:parameter, '') : a:parameter) . '")'
  • 1
    and probably don't forget to escape all the stuff inside parameter so it doesn't get interpreted by :map, unless you want that!
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 14:18
  • I thought about converting it to string in the first place, but supposed it is a workaround solution. Seems to be the one for now. Commented Oct 1, 2023 at 17:56
  • Basically since you're using :execute it requires a string argument, and you were trying to drop in a non-string type. Depending on what you're really trying to do you can get around it, but I wanted to keep my answer simple.
    – Heptite
    Commented Oct 1, 2023 at 19:14

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