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I'm not sure how to use this filter. Could someone show me an example? I'm trying to change ('0', '1', '%') to ('0 Comments', '1 Comment', '% Comments').

I'm using this function to get the comments number.

    function lpe_get_comments_number( $anchor='#comments' ) {
        $return = '<a class="comments-number-link" href="' . get_permalink() . $anchor . '">';
        $return .= get_comments_number(); // '0', '1', '%'
        $return .= '</a>';
        return $return;

I know I could just set the arguments here and call it a day, but I was hoping to store my custom functions away in a different file and handle their settings from the themes functions.php.

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You can use comments_number function to acheve this. codex.wordpress.org/Function_Reference/comments_number – Vinod Dalvi Mar 4 '13 at 6:02
I'm trying to set the $args in the functions file, so that all comments_number() functions have the same value. – marcup Mar 4 '13 at 6:42

If you put functions like get_permalink() or get_comments_number() in a function, then you have to make the $comments and $post vars accessible. Read more about the scope in PHP.

Normally you will do it with a global keyword. An easy example: retriving the permalink

function my_personal_permalink( $anchor = '' ) {
  global $post;
  $return = get_permalink( $post->ID );
  $return .= $anchor;

  return $return;

This is a very simple example. get_permalink() need some information from which post it should generate the permalink. So we have to make the 'post' accessible inside the function. This will be done with global $post;, it will make the actual post data accessible. get_permalink() need the post ID, we pass it with $post->ID

If you use template functions inside a function, then you have to explore which data the template functions need (post, comment, database connection ($wpdb), etc.) and pass them as argument.

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The problem is not with the function, the function works. I'm looking for an example on how to use a filter with it. – marcup Mar 5 '13 at 0:08
You mean apply_filters() and add_filter()? – Ralf912 Mar 5 '13 at 8:50

From your comment on my first answer, I think you wish to apply filters.

function lpe_get_comments_number( $anchor='#comments' ) {
  $return = '<a class="comments-number-link" href="' . get_permalink() . $anchor . '">';

  $args = array(
    'zero' => 'Zero comments',
    'one' => 'One comment',
    'more' => '% Comments'

  $filtered_args = apply_filters( 'choose_your_hook_name', $args );

  // be sure all keys in the filtered args are present and have a valid value
  // this is optional but usefull
  $args = wp_parse_args( $filtered_args, $args );

  $return .= get_comments_number( $args['zero'], $args['one'], $args['more'] ); // '0', '1', '%'

  $return .= '</a>';
  return $return;

add_filter( 'choose_your_hook_name', 'your_filter_callback', 1, 1 );

function your_filter_callback( $args ) {
  return array( 'zero' => 'Foo Comments', 'one' => 'Bar Comments' );

You can also pass additional argument to apply_filters() if you want to decide things depending on the passed arguments:

$zero = 'Zero Comments';

if ( $today == 'sunday' ) {
  $foo = 'Sunday, yeah!';
} else {
  $foo = '';
  $bar = 'No sunday';

$zero = apply_filters( 'choose_your_hook_name', $zero, $foo, $bar );

get_comments_number( $zero, $one, $more );

[more code]

add_filter( 'choose_your_hook_name', 'your_filter_callback', 1, 3 );

function your_filter_callback( $zero, $foo = '', $bar = '' ) {
  if ( ! empty( $foo ) )
    $zero = 'No comments on sunday!';
  elseif( ! empty( $bar ) )
    $zero = $bar . ', here are % comments';

  return $zero;
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