What is Parse-Partial-Sexp State at POS? Because I have been looking at some elisp code calling syntax-ppss.

I have the variable ppss being set to either (syntax-ppss) or to (parse-partial-sexp last-ppss-pos delim-pos nil nil ppss).

Am trying to decipher the following to see what one is determining from this.

(or (nth 3 ppss)
    (nth 4 ppss)
    (nth 5 ppss)
  • Have looked at 36.7 Syntax Table Internals.
    – Ephram
    Jul 20 at 5:06

1 Answer 1


If syntax-ppss is what you want, then this is what you need to do look at

Index entries that match ‘syntax-ppss’:

* Menu:

* syntax-ppss [Index]:                   Position Parse. (line 10)
* syntax-ppss-context [Index]:           Parser State. (line 72)
* syntax-ppss-flush-cache [Index]:       Position Parse. (line 34)
* syntax-ppss-toplevel-pos [Index]:      Parser State. (line 63)

which can be reached via

| C-h r                  | info-emacs-manual  | Help -> Read the Emacs Manual                                                 |
| u                      | Info-up            | Menu-bar -> Info -> Up                                                              |
| m elisp <return>       | Info-menu          | Info -> Menu Item -> Other...                                                 |
| I syntax-ppss <return> | Info-virtual-index | Menu-bar -> Info -> Index -> Lookup a string and display index of results...> |

If parse-partial-sexp is what you want then

Index entries that match ‘parse-partial-sexp’:

* Menu:

* parse-partial-sexp [Index]:            Low-Level Parsing. (line 10)

and this can be reached via

| C-h f parse-partial-sexp <return> | describe-function | Help -> Describe -> Describe Function... |
| i                                 | help-goto-info    | Menu-Bar -> Help-Mode -> Goto Info       |

Linking to info node from *Help* buffer is a recent addition. It works on Emacs built from the master, not sure about other versions.

  • How can I test the contents of ppss, which seems to be composed of an array?
    – Ephram
    Jul 20 at 6:36
  • "C-h r u m e l i s p <return> i a r r a y <return> n" Jul 20 at 7:10

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