CSS Combinators: CSS Combinators explains the relationship between two selectors, while the selectors in CSS are used to select the content for styling.

In this tutorial, you will learn-

CSS Combinators

A combinator is something that clarifies the relationship between the selectors.

A CSS selector can contain more than one simple selector. Between the simple selectors, we can incorporate a combinator.

There are four different combinators in CSS:

• descendant selector (space)

• child selector (>)

• adjacent sibling selector (+)

• general sibling selector (~)


Descendant Selector

The descendant selector matches all elements that are descendants of a specified element.

The accompanying example chooses all <p> elements inside <div> elements:

Example

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<style>
div p {
  background-color: yellow;
}
</style>
</head>
<body>

<h2>Descendant Selector</h2>
<p>The descendant selector matches all elements that are descendants of a specified element.</p>

<div>
  <p>Paragraph 1 in the div.</p>
  <p>Paragraph 2 in the div.</p>
  <section><p>Paragraph 3 in the div.</p></section>
</div>

<p>Paragraph 4. Not in a div.</p>
<p>Paragraph 5. Not in a div.</p>

</body>
</html>

Child Selector (>)

The child selector chooses all elements that are the children of a specified element.

The accompanying example chooses all <p> elements that are children of a <div> element:

Example

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<style>
div > p {
  background-color: yellow;
}
</style>
</head>
<body>

<h2>Child Selector</h2>
<p>The child selector (>) selects all elements that are the children of a specified element.</p>

<div>
  <p>Paragraph 1 in the div.</p>
  <p>Paragraph 2 in the div.</p>
  <section><p>Paragraph 3 in the div.</p></section> <!-- not Child but Descendant -->
  <p>Paragraph 4 in the div.</p>
</div>

<p>Paragraph 5. Not in a div.</p>
<p>Paragraph 6. Not in a div.</p>

</body>
</html>

Adjacent Sibling Selector (+)

The adjacent sibling selector is used to choose an element that is straightforwardly after another specific element.

Sibling elements should have a similar parent element, and “adjacent” means “promptly following”.

The accompanying example chooses the first <p> element that are placed immediately after <div> elements:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<style>
div + p {
  background-color: yellow;
}
</style>
</head>
<body>

<h2>Adjacent Sibling Selector</h2>

<p>The + selector is used to select an element that is directly after another specific element.</p>
<p>The following example selects the first p element that are placed immediately after div elements:</p>

<div>
  <p>Paragraph 1 in the div.</p>
  <p>Paragraph 2 in the div.</p>
</div>

<p>Paragraph 3. After a div.</p>
<p>Paragraph 4. After a div.</p>

<div>
  <p>Paragraph 5 in the div.</p>
  <p>Paragraph 6 in the div.</p>
</div>

<p>Paragraph 7. After a div.</p>
<p>Paragraph 8. After a div.</p>

</body>
</html>

General Sibling Selector (~)

The general sibling selector chooses all elements that are next siblings of a specified element.

The accompanying example chooses all <p> elements that are next sibling of <div> elements:

Example

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<style>
div ~ p {
  background-color: yellow;
}
</style>
</head>
<body>

<h2>General Sibling Selector</h2>
<p>The general sibling selector (~) selects all elements that are next siblings of a specified element.</p>

<p>Paragraph 1.</p>

<div>
  <p>Paragraph 2.</p>
</div>

<p>Paragraph 3.</p>
<code>Some code.</code>
<p>Paragraph 4.</p>

</body>
</html>

All CSS Combinator Selectors

SelectorExampleExample description
element elementdiv pSelects all <p> elements inside <div> elements
element>elementdiv > pSelects all <p> elements where the parent is a <div> element
element+elementdiv + pSelects the first <p> element that are placed immediately after <div> elements
element1~element2p ~ ulSelects every <ul> element that are preceded by a <p> element

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