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Add/Change/Delete pairs based on expand-region.

For evil-surround integration, see evil-embrace.


This package is heavily inspired by evil-surround (which is a port of the vim plugin surround.vim). But instead of using evil and its text objects, this package relies on another excellent package expand-region.

For Emacs users who don’t like evil and thus don’t use evil-surround, embrace provides similar commands that can be found in evil-surround. Evil is absolutely not required. For evil-surround users, embrace can make your evil-surround commands even better! (Have you noticed that evil-surround doesn’t work on many custom pairs?)


There are three commands: embrace-add, embrace-change and embrace-delete that can add, change, and delete surrounding pairs respectively. You can bind these commands to your favorite key bindings.

There is also a dispatch command embrace-commander. After invoking embrace-commander, you can hit:

  • a for embrace-add
  • c for embrace-change
  • d for embrace-delete


It might be a little hard for users who have no experience in evil and evil-surround to understand what embrace can do. So let’s give an example to show what embrace can do fist. You can look at the following sections to see the meaning of key bindings. In this example, I bind C-, to embrace-commander. Assume we have following text in c-mode and the cursor position is indicated by |:


Press C-, a w ' to add ” to the current word:


Press C-, a q { to add {} to outside of the quotes:


Press C-, c ' " to change the ” to “”:


Press C-, c { t, and then enter the tag: body class=”page-body”, to change the {} to a tag:

<body class="page-body">"fo|o"</body>

Press C-, c t f, and enter the function name bar to change the tag to a function call:


Press C-, d f to remove the function call:


If you’re an evil-surround user, you might notice that the last command can’t be achieved by evil-surround. However, it works in embrace! And yes, you can find even more examples in which evil-surround doesn’t work while embrace works!


For non evil-mode users, use the following settings (they will be explained later):

(global-set-key (kbd "C-,") #'embrace-commander)
(add-hook 'org-mode-hook #'embrace-org-mode-hook)

Open an org-mode file, we can perform the following pair changing:


For evil-mode users, here is a similar screencast (see evil-embrace for more details):

And we have a friendly help system (Yes, it is based on some simplified code from which-key):

Help to select a semantic unit:


Help to delete a pair:


embrace-change and embrace-delete

These two commands can change and delete the surround pair respectively. For evil-surround users, embrace-change is similar to cs and embrace-delete is similar to ds.

The surrounding pair is specified by a key, which is very similar to the key used for Vim’s text objects. For example, ( stands for the surrounding pair ( and ), and { stands for the surrouding pair, { and }. The default key mappings are shown below:

)”( ”” )”
}”{ ”” }”
]”[ ”” ]”
t“<foo bar=100>”“</foo>”

Note that for t and f key, the real content is based on the user’s input.


This command is similar to evil-surround’s ys command. We need to enter a key for the semantic unit to which we want to add a surrounding pair. The semantic unit is marked by the functions provided by expand-region.

Here is the default mapping:

keymark function

After pressing a key to select the semantic unit, you can press another key to add the surrounding pair, which is the same as embrace-change and embrace-delete.


Adding More Semantic Units

You can modify the variable embrace-semantic-units-alist and note that this variable is buffer-local so it is better to change the value in a hook:

(add-hook 'text-mode-hook
    (lambda ()
       (add-to-list 'embrace-semantic-units-alist '(?e . er/mark-email))))

Adding More Surrounding Pairs

Use the command embrace-add-pair to add a pair:

(embrace-add-pair key left right)

The change is also buffer-local, so wrap it in a hook function:

(add-hook 'LaTeX-mode-hook
    (lambda ()
       (embrace-add-pair ?e "\\begin{" "}")))

If you want add something like the t key for the tag, you can look at the function embrace-add-pair-regexp in the source code, and if you’re planning to use embrace-add-pair-regexp, you should also use embrace-build-help to build the user-friendly help message.

Note that if you’re using embrace-add-pair to add an existing key, then it will replace the old one.

Disable Help Message

If you find the help message annoying, use the following code to disable it:

(setq embrace-show-help-p nil)

Example Settings

I recommend binding a convenient key for embrace-commander. For example,

(global-set-key (kbd "C-,") #'embrace-commander)

We have defined several example hook functions that provide additional key bindings which can be used in different major modes. Right now there are hooks for LaTeX-mode and org-mode:





ruby-mode (and enh-ruby-mode):


To use them:

(add-hook 'LaTeX-mode-hook 'embrace-LaTeX-mode-hook)
(add-hook 'org-mode-hook 'embrace-org-mode-hook)
(add-hook 'ruby-mode-hook 'embrace-ruby-mode-hook) ;; or 'enh-ruby-mode-hook

The code for the three hooks above (which are defined in embrace.el):

(defun embrace-LaTeX-mode-hook ()
  (dolist (lst '((?= "\\verb|" . "|")
                 (?~ "\\texttt{" . "}")
                 (?/ "\\emph{" . "}")
                 (?* "\\textbf{" . "}")))
    (embrace-add-pair (car lst) (cadr lst) (cddr lst))))
(defun embrace-org-mode-hook ()
  (dolist (lst '((?= "=" . "=")
                 (?~ "~" . "~")
                 (?/ "/" . "/")
                 (?* "*" . "*")
                 (?_ "_" . "_")
                 (?+ "+" . "+")
                 (?k "@@html:<kbd>@@" . "@@html:</kbd>@@")))
    (embrace-add-pair (car lst) (cadr lst) (cddr lst))))
(defun embrace-ruby-mode-hook ()
  (dolist (lst '((?# "#{" "}")
                 (?d "do" "end")))
    (embrace-add-pair (car lst) (cadr lst) (caddr lst))))

You can define and use your own hook function similar to the code above.

Welcome to add some settings for more major modes.

For evil-surround Users

Where embrace is better

From the previous example, you can see that embrace actually replicates all the funcionalities provided in evil-surround and it can even do more than evil-surround. Actually, they are quite different. Since embrace uses expand-region behind the scene, you can expect it to work as long as expand-region works. Unlike evil-surround, which is restricted to the pre-defined text objects, embrace can define nearly arbitrary surrounding pairs and three core commands always work. On the contratry, you get nearly no customization in evil-surround: custom pairs don’t work in cs or ds if you don’t have a corresponding text object defined (they work in ys).

TL;DR: embrace is more customizable.

Why not use together?

Sure! You can make embrace and evil-surround work together. Look at evil-embrace!


This package is still in early stage, but it is quite usable right now. More functions can be added and the evil integration is not perfect yet. Contributions are always welcome!

Related Packages


Add/Change/Delete pairs based on `expand-region', similar to `evil-surround'.







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