Python List Methods: All you need to Know

By | October 29, 2021
Python List Methods

The list is one of Python’s built-in data structures. It is a mutable and ordered data structure that is similar to arrays of other Programming languages. We can use a Python list object to store multiple items in sequential order with a single variable name.

As a list is an in-built data structure, it comes with some built-in functions(which are known as list methods). To use the list method, we write the list name followed by the dot operator and method call.

This Python tutorial will discuss all the methods available for a Python list object, with examples. So let’s get started with a brief introduction of the Python list itself.

Python List overview

A Python list can store multiple items of different data types, and it stores all items in an ordered way. The data values store within a list are known as list items and sometimes they are also referred to as list elements.

To initialize a list we can either use the list() function or square bracket which is generally used by Python developers.

Vamware

Example (Initialize List)

#list with square bracket
programming = ["Python","JavaScript", "Java", "C++",]

Or

Vamware
#list with list Function
programming = list(("Python","JavaScript", "Java", "C++"))

List map every item to a unique index value, that starts from 0 up to n-1, where n is the total number of items present in the list. We can use the index number of an individual item to access it.

Example (Access list item)

programming = ["Python","JavaScript", "Java", "C++",]

#access list item
program1 = programming[0]

print(program1)    #Python

Python list also supports negative indexing which allows us to access list items from the rear side. The negative indexing starts from -1 up to -n, where -1 represents the last item’s index number and -n first item.

Example (Access list item with negative indexing)

programming = ["Python","JavaScript", "Java", "C++",]

#access list item
program4 = programming[-1]

print(program4)

Output

C++

That’s enough about the Python list, now let’s discuss the method supported by a Python list.

Python List Methods

A method is a function that is defined for an object. Python list supports many inbuilt functions. To list all the list’s methods we can use dir() function.

>>> dir(list)

['__add__', '__class__', '__class_getitem__', '__contains__', '__delattr__', '__delitem__', 
'__dir__', '__doc__', '__eq__', '__format__', '__ge__', '__getattribute__', '__getitem__', 
'__gt__', '__hash__', '__iadd__', '__imul__', '__init__', '__init_subclass__', '__iter__', 
'__le__', '__len__', '__lt__', '__mul__', '__ne__', '__new__', '__reduce__', '__reduce_ex__',
'__repr__', '__reversed__', '__rmul__', '__setattr__', '__setitem__', '__sizeof__', 
'__str__', '__subclasshook__', 'append', 'clear', 'copy', 'count', 'extend', 'index', 
'insert', 'pop', 'remove', 'reverse', 'sort']

A list supports 11 normal methods that we generally use, and the rest of the other methods are dunders. 

List methods

  1. append()
  2. clear()
  3. copy()
  4. count()
  5. extend()
  6. index()
  7. insert()
  8. pop()
  9. remove()
  10. reverse()
  11. sort()

1. Python list append method 

The append method is the most used list method. With the append() method we can add a new item to the list. The append() method adds the new item at the end of the list. 

syntax

list_name.append(item)

return 

The append() method perform the in-place operation on the list and return None.

argument

append() accept a single argument value.

Example

tutorials = ["Python","JavaScript", "Java", "C++"]

#add new program to tutorials list
tutorials.append("C")

print(tutorials)

Output

['Python', 'JavaScript', 'Java', 'C++', 'C']

2. Python list clear method 

With clear() method we can remove all the items present in the list. The clear() method also perform the in place operation and return None as a value.

syntax

list_name.clear()

return

clear() perform inplace operation on the list and return None

argument 

The clear method does not accept any argument value

Example

tutorials = ["Python","JavaScript", "Java", "C++"]

#clear all tutorials 
tutorials.clear()

print(tutorials)

Output

[]

3. Python list copy method 

The copy() method creates a shallow copy of the list and returns a new list with the same elements. 

A shallow copy means it will only copy the outer items of the list, if the list has a nested list, items those nested list items won’t be copied but referred.

syntax 

list_name.copy()

return 

It returns a shallow copy of the list

argument 

It does not accept any argument

Example

tutorials = ["Python","JavaScript", "Java", "C++", ["Django", "Flask"]]

#copy tutorials 
all_tutorials = tutorials.copy()

#add new totorial
tutorials[4].append("React")

print("Tutorials:",tutorials)
print("All tutorails:", all_tutorials)

Output

Tutorials: ['Python', 'JavaScript', 'Java', 'C++', ['Django', 'Flask', 'React']]
All tutorails: ['Python', 'JavaScript', 'Java', 'C++', ['Django', 'Flask', 'React']]

4. Python list count method 

The count() method, count the number of times an item occur in a list.

syntax 

list_name.count()

return 

It returns an integer value, representing the number of times the object occur in the list.

argument 

It accept a single argument, the item that we want to count.

Example

beverage = ["tea", "coke", "coffee", "red bull", "tea", "juice", "coke", "tea"]

tea_count = beverage.count("tea")

print(f"tea occurs {tea_count} times on beverage list")

Output

tea occurs 3 times on beverage list

5. Python list extend method 

With the append() method we can only add a single object to the list. But the extend method allows us to add multiple items to the list. 

The extend method accept an iterable object as an argument and add all the items of the iterable object to the list.

syntax 

list_name.extend(items)

return 

extend() perform the inplace operation and return None

argument 

It accepts a single iterable argument, which items we want to add to the list.

Example

languages = ["English","Mandarin","Hindi","Spanish"]

#add new languages to the list
languages.extend(("French", "Arabic", "Bengali"))

print(languages)

Output

['English', 'Mandarin', 'Hindi', 'Spanish', 'French', 'Arabic', 'Bengali']

6. Python list index method 

With the list’s index() method we can find the index number of the first occurrence of the item.

syntax 

list_name.index(item)

return 

index() method return an integer value, for the index number.

argument 

It accepts a single argument, which index number we want to find.

Example

languages = ["English","Mandarin","Hindi","Spanish"]

#find the index value of Hindi
hindi_idx = languages.index("Hindi")

print("The index value of Hindi in languages is:",hindi_idx)

Output

The index value of Hindi in languages is: 2

If the list has duplicate items the index() method will return the index value for the first occurrence

Example

ages = [17, 18, 19, 17, 19, 20, 21, 20]

#find the index value of 20
age_idx = ages.index(20)

print("The index value of 20 in ages is:",age_idx)

Output

The index value of 20 in ages is: 5

The index() method return error if the specified item does not present in the list.

Example

ages = [17, 18, 19, 17, 19, 20, 21, 20]

#find the index value of 20
age_idx = ages.index(30)

print("The index value of 20 in ages is:",age_idx)

Output

ValueError: 30 is not in list

7. Python list insert method 

The insert() method allow us to add a new item at a specific index position.

syntax 

list_name.insert(index, item)

return 

insert() method add the item in the existing list and return None.

argument 

It accepts two arguments, index and item. The index is the index number where we want to add the new item and the item is the new item that we want to add to the list.

Example

languages = ["English","Mandarin","Spanish"]

#insert Hindi at index number 2
languages.insert(2, "Hindi")

print(languages)

Output

['English', 'Mandarin', 'Hindi', 'Spanish']

If we try to add a new item using an index value more than the list’s range, there the insert method will add the item at the end of the list.

Example

languages = ["English","Mandarin","Spanish"]

#insert Hindi at index number 100
languages.insert(100, "Hindi")

print(languages)

Output

['English', 'Mandarin', 'Spanish', 'Hindi']

8. Python list pop method 

With the help of the list’s pop() method, we can remove any item using the item’s index number. 

syntax 

list_name.pop(index)

return 

pop() method remove the item from the list and return that removed item.

argument 

It accepts a single argument which is optional. If we do not provide any argument value to the pop method, it will remove and return the last item of the list.

Example

languages = ["English","Mandarin","Hindi","Spanish"]

#remove the last element
removed = languages.pop()

print("The removed item is:", removed)
print(languages)

Output

The removed item is: Spanish
['English', 'Mandarin', 'Hindi']

Example

languages = ["English","Mandarin","Hindi","Spanish"]

#remove the item which index number is 2
removed = languages.pop(2)

print("The removed item is:", removed)
print(languages)

Output

The removed item is: Hindi
['English', 'Mandarin', 'Spanish']

If we try to remove an item with an out of range index number, pop() method will raise the error.

Example

languages = ["English","Mandarin","Hindi","Spanish"]

#remove the item which index number is 100
removed = languages.pop(100)

print("The removed item is:", removed)
print(languages)

Output

IndexError: pop index out of range

9. Python list remove method 

As the name suggests with the remove method we can remove the first occurrence of a specific item from a list. 

syntax 

list_name.remove(item)

return 

remove() method remove the item from the list and return None

argument 

It accepts a single argument value item, that we want to remove from the list.

Example 

languages = ["English","Mandarin","Hindi","Spanish"]

#remove the item Mandarin
languages.remove("Mandarin")

print(languages)

Output

['English', 'Hindi', 'Spanish']

The remove method only removes the first occurrence of the specified item.

Example

languages = ["English","Spanish","Mandarin", "Hindi","Spanish"]

#remove the item Spanish
languages.remove("Spanish")

print(languages)

Output

['English', 'Mandarin', 'Hindi', 'Spanish']

If we try to remove an item that does not present in the list, the remove method throws the error.

Example

languages = ["English","Spanish","Mandarin", "Hindi","Spanish"]

#remove the item French
languages.remove("French")

print(languages)

Output

ValueError: list.remove(x): x not in list

10. Python list reverse method 

The reverse() method reverses the list items. This method only reverses the list from back to forth, it does not sort the list in any order.

syntax 

list_name.reverse()

return 

reverse() method reverse the in-place item, and it returns None.

argument 

It does not accept any argument value

Example

languages = ["English","Mandarin", "Hindi","Spanish"]

#reverse the list
languages.reverse()

print(languages)

Output

['Spanish', 'Hindi', 'Mandarin', 'English']

11. Python list sort method 

The sort() method sorts the list items in lexicographical order.

syntax 

list_name.sort(*, key=None, reverse=False)

return 

reverse() perform in-place sorting and return None

argument 

It accepts two optional arguments

key = The function that performs the sorting comparison.

reverse = Boolean value, True for descending sorting and False ascending sorting.

Example

languages = ["English","Mandarin", "Hindi","Spanish"]

#sort the list
languages.sort()

print(languages)

Output

['English', 'Hindi', 'Mandarin', 'Spanish']

The sort() method can only sort a list that has a similar data type, else it returns an error.

Example

languages = ["English","Mandarin", "Hindi","Spanish", 3]

#sort the list
languages.sort()

print(languages)

Output

TypeError: '<' not supported between instances of 'int' and 'str'

Conclusion

A Python list is a mutable data structure, and it is mostly used to store similar data.  In this Python guide, we discussed all the methods that are available for a Python list object. We also discuss their syntax and examples with some exceptions. Method like append(), insert(), remove(), pop(), extend(), sort(), clear and reverse() perform the in-place operation and return None(except pop). And the methods copy(), count(), and index(), does not perform any in-place operation and return some value.

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Author: Vinay

I am a Full Stack Developer with a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science, who also loves to write technical articles that can help fellow developers.

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