Python, Software Development

Python Basic Syntax – An Introduction For New Learners

In terms of basic syntax, Python 3 has a lot of similarities with Perl, PHP, and Ruby. Many tutorials would include Java, but that is not even remotely true. This post is an introduction to Python’s basic syntax designed for new learners of Python.

Your First “Hello, World!” Python Codes

Let us execute the same codes in different ways with Python.

Interactive Python Programming

By interactive programming, it means using the Python interpreter interactively where we type in codes, and we get immediate feedback. Okay, let us start the Python interpreter by running it without passing any arguments.

Then, we get the following interactive interface with another command prompt.

Type in the following codes and press the Enter.

We get the following output.

Python Basic Syntax

Run Python Programs

We also refer to any Python program as a script file that conventionally has the .py extension, e.g., Assume that we the codes as the content of the script file.

When we run the script using the following command on the MS-DOS command prompt, we get some lines of text.

The command outputs the following.

Python Identifiers

A Python identifier is a name we give a function, variable, class, module, or other objects. It can start with a letter or an underscore (_) followed by letters, underscores, and digits from 0 to 9. Consider the following valid Python identifiers.

Moreover, Python identifiers are case-sensitive. The following identifiers are not the same.

When coding in Python, we can follow some conventions for identifiers.

  • When naming classes, start their names start with uppercase letters. For naming other identifiers, begin with lowercase letters.
  • Starting an identifier with a single leading underscore indicates that the identifier is private.
  • Starting an identifier with two leading underscores indicates a resolutely private identifier.
  • If the identifier also ends with two trailing underscores, the identifier is a language-defined special name.

Python Reserved Words

Python reserved words are built-in keywords that we cannot use as identifiers.


Lines and Indentation

Many know Python for its non-usage of braces to create blocks of code. Instead, we need to use indentations. Therefore, the syntax for blocks requires the usage of indentations.

The indentation can vary but must be consistent within to make the block of codes standout. Consider the codes below. It has two blocks – if and else blocks, which we nested within the main block. The main block is a group of codes that has zero indentation.

To illustrate better the blocks, the following image should paint enough words.

Python Basic Syntax

Moreover, a block must have at least one line of Python codes. If we mess up the indentation resulting in an empty block, we get an error.

The error is as follows.

What about multi-line statements?  In Python, we can break a line of code into multiple lines using the line continuation character (\). The special character does not violate the rigid rule of indentation. Consider the following codes that we slightly modified.

These codes will run without any error, as shown below.

How about spitting the lines on a functions’ commas? Let us try that.

These codes, too, will run successfully. Cool, no? If we can do something like that on function calls, we can also do the same on array literals.

Syntax For String Literals in Python

How do we create strings literals in Python? There are three ways! One, using single quotations.

Second, using double quotations.

Third, using triple quotations which allows us to span the string literal over multiple lines.

With the three quotations, the string can both have single and double quotes within it without any issue in the codes. So, when we run those codes above, we get the following output.

Python Basic Syntax

Comments in Python

There are two ways to write comments in Python – using a hash sign (#) and a pair of triple single quotes. Consider the following codes that have comments using hash sign symbols.

The Python interpreter will not consider comments are codes to compile and run. Same with comments using a pair of three single quotations.

Thank you for reading!

This Python’s Basic Syntax post is part of The Big Fat Serpent – A Python 3 Tutorial.

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