LESS - Parent Selectors

In this chapter, let us understand how Parent Selectors work. It is possible to reference the parent selector by using the &(ampersand) operator. Parent selectors of a nested rule is represented by the & operator and is used when applying a modifying class or pseudo class to an existing selector.

The following table shows the types of parent selector −

Sr.No. Types & Description
1 Multiple &

The & will represent the nearest selector and also all the parent selectors.

2 Changing Selector Order

Prepending a selector to the inherited (parent) selectors is useful when selector ordering is changed.

3 Combinatorial Explosion

The & can also produce all the possible permutation of selectors in a list separated by commas.


The following example demonstrates the use of parent selector in the LESS file −

<!doctype html>
      <link rel = "stylesheet" href = "style.css" type = "text/css" />
      <title>Parent Selector</title>

      <h2>Welcome to TutorialsPoint</h2>

Next, create the style.less file.


a {
   color: #5882FA;
   &:hover {
      background-color: #A9F5F2;

You can compile the style.less file to style.css by using the following command −

lessc style.less style.css

Execute the above command; it will create the style.css file automatically with the following code −


a {
   color: #5882FA;

a:hover {
   background-color: red;

In the above example, & refers to selector a.


Follow these steps to see how the above code works −

  • Save the above html code in the parent_selector1.htm file.

  • Open this HTML file in a browser, the following output will get displayed.

Less Parent Selector

The Parent selectors operator has many uses like, when you need to combine the nested rule's selectors in other way than the default. Another typical use of & is to generate class names repeatedly. For more information click here.