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I'm using the pre_get_posts hook to order the main query on all my custom post type / taxonomy pages using a custom meta value. As part of the logic, I am trying to determine which taxonomy is currently being displayed by using get_query_var('taxonomy'), however no matter what I try, it keeps returning a blank string:

function sort_query($query)
    if (is_tax()){
        echo get_query_var('taxonomy'); // Empty
        echo get_query_var($query->query_vars['taxonomy']); // Empty
add_action('pre_get_posts', 'sort_query');

Any help would be greatly appreciated; thanks!

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Are you sure is_tax is working and what you want to use? – Wyck Jan 15 '13 at 17:41
@Wyck As far as I can tell based on limited testing it is working as expected; however I am open to alternatives. Basically need a way to capture the tax and apply different ordering based on it. – dSquared Jan 15 '13 at 18:37
I am also struggling with a similar situation. Some plugin is executing query_posts() but when that query hits my pre_get_posts action, global $wp_query and $q parameter are different. get_query_var check $wp_query and returns empty. Looking at query_posts() source, it unsets and re-sets $wp_query, so how can $wp_query stay something old in my action? – lkraav Jan 25 '13 at 18:52
Just a pro-tip - don't use global template tags in a pre_get_posts hook - use the method of the query instance i.e. $query->is_tax() – TheDeadMedic Nov 4 at 12:54

1 Answer 1

Did you try this?

function sort_query($query)
    if ($query->is_tax() && $query->is_main_query()){
        echo $query->query_vars['taxonomy']; 
        $query->set( 'orderby', 'post_title' );
        $query->set( 'order', 'ASC' );
        //do other stuff
add_action('pre_get_posts', 'sort_query');

Happy Coding,


share|improve this answer
As AcidX suggested, try $query->tax_query->queries[0]['taxonomy'] - no matter what the query args where, WP_Query will always parse them into a tax query, so this should be a surefire way to get the (primary) taxonomy that was queried. – TheDeadMedic Nov 4 at 12:56

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