I am trying to translate a theme using Poedit, every thing is alright except two strings which give me errors like this:

Error: 'msgstr' is not a valid PHP format string, unlike 'msgid'. Reason: The character that terminates the directive number 1 is not a valid conversation specifier.

The string itself is this:

% comments

Both errors are in strings having % comment (not sth like % s). Now I have two problems: 1. How can I resolve these errors? Do I need to change theme code? 2. After getting these compile errors, I used .mo and .po files anyway but some phrases had been translated and some not! What is the reason to this?

EDIT: The PHP code translation associated to is:

comments_number( __('There are no comments so far', 'hbthemes'), __('There is <strong>1 comment</strong> so far', 'hbthemes'), __('There are <strong>% comments</strong> so far', 'hbthemes') );
  • Could you show the whole line of PHP code that is giving you the error?
    – Ben Miller
    Sep 20, 2013 at 18:54
  • Do you think I should change the PHP code?
    – Mehraban
    Sep 21, 2013 at 4:54
  • What version of Poedit are you using?
    – Ben Miller
    Sep 22, 2013 at 4:24
  • @BenMiller 1.5.5
    – Mehraban
    Sep 22, 2013 at 7:44

2 Answers 2


The % character is a special character in the gettext translation functions. To escape the % character to use it in a string, change it to %%.

If you weren't using the __() translation functions, then a single % character would give you the number of comments. However, when you are using the translation functions, % is a special character with special meaning. If you want to actually include a % character in the string, you need to type it as %%. The __() function will send a single % on to the comments_number function, and you should get the number of comments in its place.

Your comments_number function should be:

comments_number( __('There are no comments so far', 'hbthemes'), __('There is <strong>1 comment</strong> so far', 'hbthemes'), __('There are <strong>%% comments</strong> so far', 'hbthemes') );
  • %% would show comments number? So what is the difference between single and double %?
    – Mehraban
    Sep 21, 2013 at 7:51
  • @SAM I updated the answer with further explanation.
    – Ben Miller
    Sep 21, 2013 at 12:22
  • Changing % to %% made comment count double. It shows 2 comments 22 comments.
    – Mehraban
    Sep 21, 2013 at 20:08

The problem was with POEdit program. I used another app and it's gone.

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