When, while executing an emacs-lisp function, point is at the beginning of a line, how can I check whether that line is part of a block comment, inside it, or starting it?

The stupid approach, that I am doing now, is to go to the first non-whitespace character and see if its face is font-lock-comment-face or some such:

  (skip-syntax-forward "\\s-")
  (let ((face (get-char-property (point) 'face)))
    (or (eq face 'font-lock-comment-face)
        (eq face 'font-lock-comment-delimiter-face)
        (eq face 'font-lock-doc-face))))

But this fails sometimes, because the function that invokes this might be run before fontification is performed.

Is there some standard way of doing this? (Please include, if you can, a link to the emacs lisp manual section that I've missed.)


1 Answer 1


As far as I know the standard way of checking if a point is within a comment is by calling syntax-ppss. See Parser state for the meaning of its return value.

In particular,

(nth 4 (syntax-ppss))

is not nil when the point is in a comment.

To determine if this is a block comment, try checking if the text at the beginning of the comment (position (nth 8 (syntax-ppss))) matches a regular expression (for example by using looking-at).

  • 1
    Actually, (nth 4 (syntax-ppss)) can evaluate to other values than t when inside a comment (e.g. an integer). But it will always be a non-nil value.
    – Stefan
    Dec 10, 2014 at 13:57
  • Thanks for the correction, @Stefan! I updated the answer. Dec 10, 2014 at 15:26
  • Awesome! This inspired to fix a function I use to pull up the next line to the current line: emacs.stackexchange.com/q/7519/115 Jan 18, 2015 at 18:59

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