The :lang CSS pseudo-class matches elements based on the language the element is determined to be in. In HTML, the language is determined by a combination of the lang attribute, the <meta> element, and possibly by information from the protocol (such as HTTP headers). For other document types there may be other document methods for determining the language.

/* Matches paragraphs, but only if they are specified */
/* as being en (English language)  */
p:lang(en) {
  quotes: '\201C' '\201D' '\2018' '\2019';

Acceptable language-code strings are specified in the HTML 4.0 specification.


Formal syntax

:lang( <language-code> )


The language-code string that you want to select for.


In this example, the lang selector is used to match on the parent of a quote element using child selectors. Its not meant to demonstrate the only way to do this, or even the correct way (which would depend on the type of document). Note, Unicode values are used to specify special quote characters.

:lang(en) > q { quotes: '\201C' '\201D' '\2018' '\2019'; }
:lang(fr) > q { quotes: '« ' ' »'; }
:lang(de) > q { quotes: '»' '«' '\2039' '\203A'; }


<div lang="en"><q>This English quote has a <q>nested</q> quote.</q></div>
<div lang="fr"><q>This French quote has a <q>nested</q> quote.</q></div>
<div lang="de"><q>This German quote has a <q>nested</q> quote.</q></div>

... looks like ...


Specification Status Comment
Selectors Level 4
The definition of ':lang()' in that specification.
Working Draft No change
Selectors Level 3
The definition of ':lang()' in that specification.
Recommendation No significant change
CSS Level 2 (Revision 1)
The definition of ':lang()' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition

Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Edge Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari
Basic support 1.0 (Yes) 1.0 (1.7 or earlier) 8.0 8.0 3.1
Feature Android Edge Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Mobile Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Basic support 1.0 (Yes) 1.0 (1) 8.0 8.0 3.1

See also

Document Tags and Contributors

 Last updated by: chrisdavidmills,