Python Keywords and Identifiers

Filed Under: Python

Today we will learn about Python keywords and identifiers. Earlier we learned how to install python and get started with it in python tutorial for beginners.

Python Keywords

Well simply, python keywords are the words that are reserved. That means you can’t use them as name of any entities like variables, classes and functions.

So you might be thinking what are these keywords for. They are for defining the syntax and structures of Python language.

You should know there are 33 keywords in Python programming language as of writing this tutorial. Although the number can vary in course of time. Also keywords in Python is case sensitive. So they are to be written as it is. Here is a list of all keywords in python programming.

python keywords, keywords in python, python 3 keywords

If you look at all the keywords and try to figure out all at once, you will be overwhelmed. So for now just know these are the keywords. We will learn their uses respectively. You can get the list of python keywords through python shell help.


>>> help()

Welcome to Python 3.6's help utility!

help> keywords

Here is a list of the Python keywords.  Enter any keyword to get more help.

False               def                 if                  raise
None                del                 import              return
True                elif                in                  try
and                 else                is                  while
as                  except              lambda              with
assert              finally             nonlocal            yield
break               for                 not                 
class               from                or                  
continue            global              pass                

help> 

Below is a simple example showing usage of if-else in python program.


var = 1;

if(var==1):
    print("odd")
else:
    print("even")

When we run above program, python understands the if-else block because of fixed keywords and syntax and then do the further processing.

Python Identifiers

Python Identifier is the name we give to identify a variable, function, class, module or other object. That means whenever we want to give an entity a name, that’s called identifier.

Sometimes variable and identifier are often misunderstood as same but they are not. Well for clarity, let’s see what is a variable?

Variable in Python

A variable, as the name indicates is something whose value is changeable over time. In fact a variable is a memory location where a value can be stored. Later we can retrieve the value to use. But for doing it we need to give a nickname to that memory location so that we can refer to it. That’s identifier, the nickname.

Rules for writing Identifiers

There are some rules for writing Identifiers. But first you must know Python is case sensitive. That means Name and name are two different identifiers in Python. Here are some rules for writing Identifiers in python.

  1. Identifiers can be combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, digits or an underscore(_). So myVariable, variable_1, variable_for_print all are valid python identifiers.
  2. An Identifier can not start with digit. So while variable1 is valid, 1variable is not valid.
  3. We can’t use special symbols like !,#,@,%,$ etc in our Identifier.
  4. Identifier can be of any length.

Though these are hard rules for writing identifiers, also there are some naming conventions which are not mandatory but rather good practices to follow.

  1. Class names start with an uppercase letter. All other identifiers start with a lowercase letter.
  2. Starting an identifier with a single leading underscore indicates the identifier is private.
  3. If the identifier starts and ends with two underscores, than means the identifier is language-defined special name.
  4. While c = 10 is valid, writing count = 10 would make more sense and it would be easier to figure out what it does even when you look at your code after a long time.
  5. Multiple words can be separated using an underscore, for example this_is_a_variable.

Here’s a sample program for python variables.


myVariable="hello world"
print(myVariable)

var1=1
print(var1)

var2=2
print(var2)

If you run the program, the output will be like below image.

python identifier example output

So, that’s it for today. In the next tutorial we will learn about Python Statements and Comments. Till then #happy_coding 🙂

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