A common task I run into is having to change the order of arguments. So, for example, I might have something like this:

stringInsert( "text to insert", buffer );

and need to change it into this:

stringInsert( buffer, "text to insert" );

Typically the way I do this is:

  1. da" (or whatever is required to delete the first arg)
  2. f)h (or f, if I am inserting in the middle of the arg list)
  3. p
  4. Enter insert, insert any necessary spaces in insert mode, leave insert mode
  5. Go back to beginning and delete unnecessary commas and spaces from beginning of arglist with x

Obviously, this is kind of tedious. What is a better way?


I have been trying out a macro that looks like this and so far it seems to be working pretty well:

  • Why can't you use a mapping if you want to use this multiple times and in different files?
    – SibiCoder
    Jul 7, 2016 at 16:39

3 Answers 3


You can try to put this function in your .vimrc:

function! InvertArgs()
    " Get the arguments of the current line (remove the spaces)
    let args=substitute(matchstr(getline('.'), '(\zs.*\ze)'), '\s', '', 'g')

    " Split the arguments as a list and reverse the list
    let argsList=split(args, ',')
    call reverse(argsList)

    " Join the reversed list with a comma and a space separing the arguments
    let invertedArgs=join(argsList, ', ')

    " Remove the old arguments and put the new list
    execute "normal! 0f(ci(" . invertedArgs

Go to the a line containing function (arg1, arg2, arg3) and call the function with

:call InvertArgs()

The main advantage of this function is that the number of arguments in your funciton doesn't matter.

You can also create a mapping like nnoremap <key> :call InvertArgs()<CR>

Edit: I just noticed that your example has a string with withe spaces in it: the function will mess with it, thus the subtitution in the first line should be removed like this:

let args=matchstr(getline('.'), '(\zs.*\ze)')

Statox's is much more robust, but if you only wanted to ever do two arguments a lighter solution could be:

noremap <key> :s/(\(.*\), \(.*\))/(\2, \1)/e<CR>

This uses the search and replace function.

  • \(\) captures output
  • \1 recalls the 1st capture
  • e flag makes it not complain if the search fails

See :h :s for more info.

  • For two arguments your solution is way lighter than mine :-) I wonder if it would be possible to create patterns which would adapt to any number of arguments...
    – statox
    Jul 7, 2016 at 14:17
  • Maybe submatch() could be used? I have very little experience with it though. It's a function I've been meaning to look into for a while now but never have.
    – Tumbler41
    Jul 7, 2016 at 14:19
  • Same here: I know that I'm often impressed when I see people using submatch() cleverly but I've never trained myself enough to make it work properly. When I'll have time I'll check if I can find a way to do that!
    – statox
    Jul 7, 2016 at 14:25
  • 1
    I don't know how robust it is, but using the atom \%# to describe the current cursor position, maybe you could create a mapping which would adapt to any number of arguments: nnoremap <key> :s/\v[(, ]+\zs(\k*%#\k+)(,\s*)(\k+)/\3\2\1/<CR><C-O> Jul 7, 2016 at 14:44

sideways.vim is nice for this. You can use :SidewaysLeft or :SidewaysRight to shift arguments and it's repeatable if you have vim-repeat installed.

Text objects you could map:

omap aa <Plug>SidewaysArgumentTextobjA
xmap aa <Plug>SidewaysArgumentTextobjA
omap ia <Plug>SidewaysArgumentTextobjI
xmap ia <Plug>SidewaysArgumentTextobjI

Limitations I noticed:

  • The text objects seem to be sensitive about where the cursor is placed.
  • Selected text objects don't shrink or expand when repeated.

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