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Essential Python 3 code for lists

mortoray profile image edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y ・3 min read

Python 3 examples for all of the things I listed in my previous article.

There are variations on much of this syntax, but so long as you know one way, you'll be fine. I tried to find the Pythonic way in most cases. You can use this as a cheat sheet.


# Create a list
mylist = []

# Add an element to the front or back
mylist.append( "abc" )
mylist.insert( 0, "def" )

# Pop element off front or back
end = mylist.pop()
start = mylist.pop( 0 )

# Forward iterate over elements
for item in mylist:
    print( item )

# Get the length of list
len( mylist )

# Test if empty
if not mylist:
    print( "list is empty" )

Location Based Operations

# Get item at location

# Insert an item at location
mylist.insert( 3, "abc" ) 

# Remove an item from location
del mylist[2]

# Replace/Assign item at location
mylist[1] = "def"

Sorting and searching

# Find an item
if item in mylist:
    index = mylist.index(item)

# Using `index` and error handling
    index = mylist.index( 'abc' )
except ValueError:
    index = None

# Using `next` and filtering
next((x for x in mylist if x == 'ghif'), None)

# Find and remove an item
if item in mylist:
    mylist.remove( item )

# with error handling
    mylist.remove( item )
except ValueError:

# Find last matching item
# Index of found item, or None
next( (index for index in reversed( range( len( mylist ) ) ) if mylist[index] == item), None)

# Alternately, reverse list and use "Find an item", but that copies the list
revlist = mylist[::-1]
if item in revlist:
    index = revlist.index( item )

# Sort by natural order
# in-place sort

# Sort with custom comparator
mylist = [ ('a', 10), ('b', 7), ('c',13), ('d',1) ]
# sort by a key (sub-element
mylist.sort( key = lambda item: item[1] )
# custom comparator
def compare_fn( a, b ):
    return some_cond( a, b )
mylist.sort( key = functools.cmp_to_key( compare_fn ) )

Segment Manipulation

# Split the list at arbitrary location
tail_of_list = mylist[2:]
head_of_list = mylist[:2]

# Multiple splits based on a match
mylist = ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'b', 'e']
[list(y) for x, y in itertools.groupby( mylist, lambda z: z == 'b') if not x]

# Clear the list

# Remove segment
# delete from position 1 up to, but excluding position 3
del mylist[1:3]

# Concatenate lists
mylist + other_list

# Insert list at location
# list slicing replaces the segment of list with another one, here we replace a zero-length slice
mylist[1:1] = other_list

# Get a sublist
# sublist starting at position 1 up to, but excluding, position 3

More Iteration

# Backward
for item in reversed( mylist ):
    print( item )

# Partial segment iteration
# using itertools.islice avoids copying the list (which is what would happen if you used a slice)
for item in itertools.islice( mylist, 1, 4 ):
    print( item )

# Skipping elements
# step from element 1 to 6 (exclusive) by 2
for item in itertools.islice( mylist, 1, 6, 2 ):
    print( item )


# Create from a static list of items
mylist = [ 'abc', 'def', 'ghi']

# Create a range of numbers
# a list of numbers from 10..20 (exclusive)
numbers = list( range( 10, 20 ) )

Data Manipulation

# Mapping
[number * 10 for number in numbers]

# Filtering
[number for number in numbers if number % 2 == 0]

# Fold / Reduce
# Summing up numbers using builtin add
functools.reduce( operator.add, numbers )
# Joining string representations of items
functools.reduce( lambda left,right: str( left ) + '/' + str( right ), mylist )

# Zip
# the zip function produces a list of tuples
zip( lista, listb )
# to alternate items into one list use reduce
functools.reduce( operator.add, zip( lista, listb ) )


# Swap elements at two locations
mylist[3], mylist[5] = mylist[5], mylist[3]

# Reserve capacity
# Python lists do not expose capacity

# Replace content in a list
mylist[:] = other_list

# Compare two lists
lista == listb

# Search a sorted list
# bisect_left/bisect_right work with sorted lists,
# find an item ndx using bisect_left, finds the left-most item
ndx = bisect_left( numbers, 4 )
if ndx != len(numbers) and numbers[ndx] == 4
    print( "Found at {}".format(ndx) )

# Iterators
# Manually stepping through an iterator
myiter = iter( mylist )
while True:
        n = next( myiter )
    except StopIteration:

# Multiple iterators at the same time
itera = iter( lista )
iterb = iter( listb )
while True:
        a = next( itera )
        b = next( iterb )
        print( a, b )
    except StopIteration:

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mortoray profile

edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y


I'm a creative writer and adventurous programmer. I cook monsters.


markdown guide

I use enumerate a lot so:

for index, element in enumerate(my_list):
    # Do whatever
mylist.append( "abc" )
mylist.insert(0, "def")

Why do you have inconsistent formatting? Is there some rule that I cannot figure out or simply an oversight?


Hopefully I have them all fixed now. I was copy-and-pasting back-and-forth to the interactive editor, thus messed up the style sometimes.