Python SyntaxError: unexpected character after line continuation character Solution

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Python SyntaxError: unexpected character after line continuation character Solution
vinaykhatri

Vinay Khatri
Last updated on July 13, 2024

    In Python, if a single line statement is getting lengthy, we can use the Python continuation character \ (backslash) to break the statement into multiple lines for better legibility. And according to the Python syntax, the continuation character must be the last character of that line, and if any other character follows it, Python throws the error "SyntaxError: unexpected character after line continuation character ".

    In this Python guide, we will discuss this error in detail and learn how to debug it in a program . We will also walk through some examples and a common scenario that demonstrates this error, so you could get a better idea of how to tackle this error in Python. So without further ado, let's get started with this error statement.

    Python Problem SyntaxError: unexpected character after line continuation character

    In Python, we can break down a single line of code into multiple lines using the continuation character \. But when we use the continuation character, we need to keep in mind that no other character follows it otherwise, Python raises the SyntaxError: unexpected character after line continuation character.

    Example

    products , prices= ['Shoes', 'Tshirts','Watch','Nacklace'], \
                       [4999,999,3499,5999]
    
    print(products)
    print(prices)

    In the above example, we have used the \ continuation character to break the single statement into 2 lines. You can also notice that we used the \ symbol at the end of the first line to break the line. And if we try to put any other character after it we would receive the Error.

    Error Example

    products , prices= ['Shoes', 'Tshirts','Watch','Nacklace'] \ ,
                       [4999,999,3499,5999]
    
    print(products)
    print(prices)

    Output

     File "main.py", line 1
    products , prices= ['Shoes', 'Tshirts','Watch','Nacklace'] \ ,
    SyntaxError: unexpected character after line continuation character

    In this example, we are receiving a syntax error. This is because we have put the  comma , after the line continuation character \ . To better understand this error, we can break down the error into two parts.

    1. SyntaxError
    2. unexpected character after line continuation character

    1. Syntax Error

    In Python, we need to follow some defined rules or syntax while writing a Python program. And if we violate any python syntax, the Python parser raises the SyntaxError.

    2. unexpected character after line continuation character

    This is the error message that raises along with the Python SyntaxError exception. By reading this error message, we can tell that we are using a character after the line continuation character \.

    Common Example Scenario

    The SyntaxError: unexpected character after line continuation character Error will only raise in a Python program when we put any character after the line continuation symbol \ . There are two common scenarios when many Python learners encounter this error.

    1. Using \ as a division operator.
    2. Using escape characters incorrectly.

    1. Using \ as a division operator

    In Python, we use the forward slash / as a division operator to divide two numbers. Many times new python learners confuse the backward slash \ with the forward-slash division operator and encounter the SyntaxError: unexpected character after line continuation character Error.

    Example

    x= 20
    y = 5
    
    division = x\y
    
    print(division)

    Output

      File "main.py", line 4
        division = x\y
    SyntaxError: unexpected character after line continuation character

    In this example, we are confusing the \ backward slash (line continuation character) with division operator.

    Solution

    To solve the above example, we need to ensure that while performing the division operation, we use the / operator, not \.

    x= 20
    y = 5
    
    division = x/y
    
    print(division)

    2. Using escape characters incorrectly.

    Python string supports escape characters that provide special meaning to the string. To write an escape character, we use the backward slash followed by the character. The escape character also needs to be written as a string value. If we write it as an identifier or special keyword, we will encounter the SyntaxError: unexpected character after line continuation character Error.

    Example

    str1 = "First Line"
    str2 = "Second Line"
    
    print(str1, \n , str2)

    Output

      File "main.py", line 4
        print(str1, \n , str2)
    SyntaxError: unexpected character after line continuation character

    In the above example, we are receiving the error in line 4 with the print(str1, \n , str2) statement. The print(str1, \n , str2) statement contains an escape character \n that is supposed to be a string value, but we used it as a normal keyword. When python's interpreter reads that statement, it treats \ as a line continuation character and n a normal character that comes after the line continuation character (\).  That's why it threw the error.

    Solution

    To solve the above example, we need to use the \n as a string by wrapping it up with single or double quotes.

    str1 = "First Line"
    str2 = "Second Line"
    
    print(str1, "\n" , str2)

    Output

    First Line 
    Second Line

    Conclusion

    The "SyntaxError: unexpected character after line continuation character" is a very common error in Python. This error is raised in a program when we put a character after the line continuation character \. We can also encounter this error if we confuse the / operator with the \ operator. To solve this error in your python program, you need to read the error statement first, look for the error line where you are receiving this error, and take the required measure.

    If you are still getting this error in your Python program, you can share your code and query in the comment section. We will try to help you in debugging.

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