I want the user to tick the child cat only, but I'd like to be able to display the parent cat based on the child cat. This is within the loop.

2 Answers 2


There's a function called get_category_parents that will return a list of parents based on the ID. You can then loop through this list to display the parents.

  • I tried <?php echo get_category_parents( $cat, true, ' ' ); ?> but it didn't work.
    – Pete
    Sep 22, 2019 at 12:48
  • Maybe $cat is a term object? Try $cat->term_id. Sep 22, 2019 at 12:54
  • Yeah, that example in the codex doesn't work. You cannot echo a list. You'll have to loop through it.
    – cjbj
    Sep 22, 2019 at 13:02
  • General tip if echoing doesn't work. Use var_dump to see the structure of the variable you are trying to print. That will tell you how to dissect it in order to echo it.
    – cjbj
    Sep 22, 2019 at 13:03
  • <?php echo get_category_parents( $cat->term_id, true, ' ' ); ?> didn't work either. I'm not very familiar with php.
    – Pete
    Sep 22, 2019 at 13:10

get_category_parents() is a function which returns the category's parent based on the cat ID.
So in this case to make it adaptable, we use get_queried_object_id() which will output the cat ID (number) of current object.

It's as simple as :

$parents = get_category_parents( get_queried_object_id());
if ( ! is_wp_error( $parents )) echo $parents;

It's good practice to implement the WP_Error fallback, mostly to avoid abritratry code execution.

A little PHP breakdown for those beginning:

  1. we declare the variable $parents
  2. $parents will equal everything between the "=" sign and next semi-colon ";"
  3. get_queried_object_id() returns the current object id (current category number)
  4. That number is piped in get_category_parents() -> i.e get_category_parents('26')
  5. Last function returns name category 26 parent's name -> say 'Master Category' for example
  6. Semi-colon ! So end of this 'loop', simple way to think of it :

$parents = get_category_parents(26) -> $parents = 'Master Category'

i'll quickly breeze through the last part, you're all smart cookies eager to figure it all out on your own ;)

  1. if $parents doesn't equal wp_error echo $parents

End of story !

  • unfortunately <?php $parents = get_category_parents( get_queried_object_id()); if ( ! is_wp_error( $parents )) echo $parents; ?> didn't display anything?
    – Pete
    Sep 23, 2019 at 10:26
  • can you provide the code of page you placed it in, what loop it's in? Sep 23, 2019 at 14:32
  • It's just in a normal single.php loop.
    – Pete
    Sep 23, 2019 at 15:12
  • the following will only work for single content page, otherwise i suggest using a hook in the functions file. In the file /content/parts/content-single.php of your theme folder, <?php the_category(',&nbsp; &nbsp;'); ?> replace by <?php $category = get_the_category(); $first_category = $category[0]; echo sprintf( '<a href="%s">%s</a>', get_category_link( $first_category ), $first_category->name );?> Sep 24, 2019 at 9:03

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