Python For Loop – A Complete Guide for Beginners

This tutorial explains Python for loop, its syntax and provides various examples of iterating over the different sequence data types.

A “for” loop is the most preferred control flow statement to be used in a Python program. It is best to use when you know the total no. of iterations required for execution.

It has a clearer and simple syntax and can help you iterate through different types of sequences. Python supports seven sequence data types: standard/Unicode strings, a list, tuples, a bytearray, and xrange objects. There are sets and dictionaries as well, but they are just containers for the sequence types.

Table of Content

What is a Python for loop?

A for loop in Python requires at least two variables to work. The first is the iterable object such as a list, tuple or a string. And second is the variable to store the successive values from the sequence in the loop.

The syntax of Python for loop

In Python, you can use the “for” loop in the following manner.

for iter in sequence:

The “iter” represents the iterating variable. It gets assigned with the successive values from the input sequence.

The “sequence” may refer to any of the following Python objects such as a list, a tuple or a string.

How does the “for” loop work in Python?

The for loop can include a single line or a block of code with multiple statements. Before executing the code inside the loop, the value from the sequence gets assigned to the iterating variable (“iter”).

Below is the flowchart representation of For Loop in Python.

Python For Loop Flowchart

Example: Python for loop to print each character from a string

for iter in vowels:
    print("char:", iter)

The above code is traversing the characters in the input string named as the vowels. Its output is as follows.

char: A
char: E
char: I
char: O
char: U

Example: Python for loop to find the average of N numbers

We’ll use the following steps to calculate the sum of N numbers.

  • Create a list of integers and populate with N (=6) values.
  • Initialize a variable (sum) for storing the summation.
  • Loop N (=6) number of times to get the value of each integer from the list.
  • In the loop, add each value with the previous and assign to a variable named as the sum.
  • Divide the “sum” with N (=6). We used the len() function to determine the size of our list.
  • The output of the previous step is the average we wanted.
  • Finally, print both the “sum” and the average.

Below is the Python code for the above program.

int_list = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
sum = 0
for iter in int_list:
    sum += iter
print("Sum =", sum)
print("Avg =", sum/len(int_list))

Here is the output after executing the above code.

Sum = 21
Avg = 3.5

Use range() function in Python for loop

The range() function can produce an integer sequence at runtime. For example, a statement like range(0, 10) will generate a series of ten integers starting from 0 to 9.

Below snippet is interpreting more about the functional aspect of the range() function.

>>> type(range(0, 10))
<class 'range'>
>>> range(0, 10)[0]
>>> range(0, 10)[1]
>>> range(0, 10)[9]
>>> len(range(0, 10))

Let’s now use the range() with a “for” loop.

for iter in range(0, 3):
    print("iter: %d" % (iter))

It will yield the following result.

iter: 0
iter: 1
iter: 2

By default, the “for” loop fetches elements from the sequence and assigns to the iterating variable. But you can also make the “for” loop returning the index by replacing the sequence with a range(len(seq)) expression.

books = ['C', 'C++', 'Java', 'Python']
for index in range(len(books)):
   print('Book (%d):' % index, books[index])

The following lines will get printed.

Book (0): C
Book (1): C++
Book (2): Java
Book (3): Python

Using else clause with Python for loop

Interestingly, Python allows using an optional else statement along with the “for” loop.

The code under the else clause executes after the completion of the “for” loop. However, if the loop stops due to a “break” call, then it’ll skip the “else” clause.

birds = ['Belle', 'Coco', 'Juniper', 'Lilly', 'Snow']
ignoreElse = False

for theBird in birds:
    print(theBird )
    if ignoreElse and theBird is 'Snow':
    print("No birds left.")

The above code will print the names of all birds plus the message in the “else” part.

No birds left.

Setting the “ignoreElse” variable to “True” will get the “else” part ignored. And only the names will get displayed.

Quick wrap up – Python for loop essentials

In this tutorial, we covered “Python for Loop” and a couple of ways to use it in real Python programs. If you have any question about this topic, please do write to us.

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