I’m exploring Vim’s capabilities and somehow stumbled upon this task. It’s constructed, but I’m curious: Is there a one-liner colon command that can

  1. find the first line that matches a pattern p (say, begins with „bla“)
  2. find the first line after this line that doesn’t match p and
  3. move lines 4-5 after the line found in 2.?

The order of 1.-3. doesn’t matter for purposes of execution, that’s just to explain what I’m thinking of achieving.

Thanks guys! Vim is so great.


2 Answers 2


Use the following syntax:


which finds multiple (+) occurrences of bla followed by new line characters ([^\n]), then place the cursor (;) where we set our start of match (\zs) and move our range of lines (4,5) at the current cursor position. See: :help :/.

To insert lines at the end of the whole pattern (not after first line of match), change bla[^\n] into \nbla, e.g.:


Instead of current cursor position (.), you can also use variety of different addresses to move the lines into, like \/ (the next line where the previously used search pattern matches or other addresses; see :help {address}).

  • I think this should have a [^\n]* inserted after the bla, since OP said "begins with" bla, not "only contains" bla.
    – Wildcard
    Oct 29, 2015 at 12:50
  • @Wildcard Thanks, probably I misunderstood 2. step, I've expanded my answer based on your advice. Hope that's clearer now.
    – kenorb
    Oct 29, 2015 at 13:00
  • Yep. I like this approach because it doesn't require the regex be typed in twice.
    – Wildcard
    Oct 29, 2015 at 13:03
  • Having the pattern just once is a plus. I got it working after what looks like correcting a misunderstanding, because bla is just the start of the line. /\(\nbla.*\)\+\zs/;4,5m. Nov 15, 2015 at 8:58
  • I also like learning that I can move the cursor with ;. Nov 15, 2015 at 9:10

You can do something like this:

:/^bla/,/^\(bla\)\@!/;4,5 m .

Here :/^bla/,/^\(bla\)\@!/; searches for the first line that begins with bla, then finds the next line that does not begin with bla and puts the cursor there (with ;). The next part, 4,5 m . then moves lines 4 and 5 to the cursor position ..

Note that this requires well thought out regexps, and I was not able to find a way to reuse the first regexp in the second.

  • What is your thinking in using \@! here? I admit I don't know what this is supposed to do, but it's interesting! Nov 15, 2015 at 8:52
  • \@! is used to prevent a match of the previous atom, that is, it matches with zero width if the previous part does not match. Nov 15, 2015 at 16:00
  • To make it more clear: /^\(bla\)\@!/ matches any line that does NOT start with bla. This is done with the \@! multi. I find the list in :h pattern-overview very good to show the difference between the different patterns. Nov 16, 2015 at 21:06

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