Suppose I have some statements in a shell (bash) script like

var=`cat file.txt`
echo "Date is: `date`"

I want to convert the backtick notation into $() notation like:

var=$(cat file.txt)
echo "Date is: $(date)"

How can I do this in Vim with search/replacement, for the entire file?

Motivation: https://github.com/koalaman/shellcheck/wiki/SC2006

1 Answer 1


You can try

:% s/`\([^`]*\)`/$(\1)/gc

g makes it global (for all entries in line), c makes vim to ask user about each replace.

But it won't work with nested backticks and multi-line code. Only for pairs backticks in line.

You can also quit from vim and use sed for this:

sed -n -i.backup 'N; ${s/`\([^`]*\)`/$(\1)/g; p; q}; b' filename

It will work with multi-line backtrics, but without nested.

  • Add a c after the g to manually confirm each substitution. I would also add double quotes around each $(...) but that might make things messy if you have backticks inside double quotes already. May be better to do that afterwards.
    – Kusalananda
    Jan 12, 2017 at 13:08
  • c modifier can be useful, yes. But i don't think it is really good idea to automatically wrap it into double quotes.
    – ValeriyKr
    Jan 12, 2017 at 13:12
  • Why would you wrap a statement like var=$(date) into doublequotes?
    – vatsug
    Jan 12, 2017 at 13:25

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