I am struggling combining a negative lookahead assertion @! with the very magic specifier \v

I have a buffer with this content

<div class='vvv'>abc</div>
<div class='ttt'>abc</div>

and I want to search for all classes except vvv. I can do this like so


This finds the second line (class='ttt'), as expected. Yet, when I try to search with the very magic modifier:


the search finds both classes. I had wrongly assumed these searches to be equivalent. Why are they different?

  • 4
    be carefull with\=
    – JJoao
    Oct 3, 2015 at 14:07
  • My earlier comment was just ignorant, sorry. JJoao is quite right: the second, very magic pattern needs to be \vclass\=.(vvv)@!. Oct 3, 2015 at 15:13
  • 1
    @JJoao you might want to turn your comment along with Peter's comment into an answer, so that I can accept it. Oct 3, 2015 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


The code you wrote is perfect but in \v mode = needs protection.


In normal mode \= means optional (the same as \?). In \v mode, = means optional: class= ends up meaning class|clas (I would prefer = were just a normal char).

So, to mark the classes different form ttt we can:


When we have more complex "different-from" patterns it may be easier the long way:

:%s/\vclass\='(tt1|...)'/classAUX=\1/          rename exceptions
:%s/\vclass\='.{-}'/MARKED&/                   treat normal cases
:%s/\vclassAUX/class/                          unrename

\thanks{Peter Lewerin}

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