Python Lists: List Methods and Operations

Sakshi Dhameja  17 min read
27 Sep 2023

Python Lists: An Overview

Understanding the power of Python lists can give you an incredible advantage when coding. List manipulation is an essential skill for all coders, and it's a good place to start your programming journey with a Python certification course especially if you're interested in data science. In this article, we'll deeply dive into everything you need to know about Python lists. We'll discuss how they work, their various methods and functions, Python Lists, list methods in Python, list operations in Python with examples, list in Python examples, how to create a list in Python, and some useful tips so that you can use them effectively in your own projects! Now let's jump right in!

What is a List in Python?

A Python list is a powerful tool for data management in Python language programming. It is one of the most commonly used data structures that can store information sequentially in an organized manner. Python lists are incredibly versatile and allow for the quick execution of Python list operations. These can range from simple addition or removal of elements, sorting the elements according to specified criteria, looping through the Python list and performing certain actions on it, and more advanced list comprehension techniques to transform data into usable forms. In Python programming, python lists are invaluable in storing and manipulating data quickly and efficiently.


list1 = ['mathematic', 'english', 1997, 2000];
list2 = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ]
list3 = ["a", "b", "c", "d"]

There are three defined lists: list1, list2, and list3, each of which has a different combination of numeric and string components.

Accessing list elements in Python

  • Accessing list elements in Python requires understanding how to use Python's indexes.
  • With indexing, the developer can access each element of a list quickly and easily by specifying its position in the list.
  • This can be done using integers or negative numbers. Integers start from 0 and move up to the length of the list minus one, while negative numbers start from -1 and move down to -len(list).
  • Knowing this, accessing individual values or even slices of a list becomes a breeze by accessing the right index or range of indexes.
  • Using accessing list elements in Python enables greater control over data manipulation within the code.


list1 = ['mathematic', 'chemistry', 1997, 2000];
list2 = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ];
print "list1[0]: ", list1[0]
print "list2[1:5]: ", list2[1:5]

In this example, two lists are created. The code then outputs the first member of list1 ("mathematic") and a portion of list2 that contains elements with indices 1 through 4, except 5, ("[2, 3, 4]").


list1[0]: mathematic
list2[1:5]: [2, 3, 4, 5]

Update List in Python 

  • Updating a list in Python is an essential part of developing programs and applications.
  • List updates allow the programmer to easily move, alter, and modify data that is stored in the list such as strings and values.
  • This process helps make programming more time-efficient and can simplify coding tasks.
  • List updates are closely related to array-based operations, but provide an even greater level of control over the representation and use of any given list.
  • Keeping lists updated ensures that Python code runs optimally without disruption or errors.
  • List update syntax within Python language offers a great way for developers to customize their applications for each individual use case; making python one of the most powerful programming languages available today.


list = ['mathematic', 'chemistry', 1997, 2000];
print "Value available at index 2 : "
print list[2]
list[2] = 2001;
print "New value available at index 2 : "
print list[2]

In this example, a list is initialized with entries, and the value ("1997") at index 2 is then printed. It outputs the revised value at index 2 ("2001") after altering the value at index 2 to that year. 


Value available at index 2 :
New value available at index 2 :

Remove element from a list in Python

  • Delete List Elements in Python is easy to do.
  • By using the del() method or the pop() method the developer can eliminate values from a given list.
  • The del() method will allow the user to completely remove an element from a list, while pop() allows its users to temporarily delete an element and store its value in another variable if desired.
  • When using either of these methods it is important to consider their indexing system, which starts at 0, so depending on how many elements a list has will affect the indexes available.
  • Delete List Elements in Python gives the convenience of having complete control over what elements are still part of a list, when changes need to be made it can be done quickly and without complication.


list1 = ['mathematic', 'english', 1997, 2000];
print list1
del list1[2];
print "After deleting value at index 2 : "
print list1

This example first defines a list, list1, before removing the element at index 2 (the digit "1997") from the list. It outputs the amended list1, which does not include the removed entry after deletion.


['mathematic', 'english', 1997, 2000]
After deleting value at index 2 :
['mathematic', 'english', 2000]

Reversing a List

  • In Python, reversing a list involves flipping its elements' positions so that the final element becomes the first and vice versa.
  • The 'reverse()' method of a list or the '[::-1]' slicing notation, which both produce a reversed duplicate of the original list, can be used to do this.
There are two methods used for reversing a list:
  1. A list can be reversed by using the reverse() method in Python.
  2. Using the reversed() function:


original_list = ["rohan", "mohan", "sohan"]
reversed_list = original_list[::-1]

This code first defines an "original_list" with three strings, slices the "original_list" with "[::-1]," reversing the order of the elements, and then prints the "reversed_list," displaying the elements of the original list in the reversed order.


['sohan', 'mohan', 'rohan']

Basic List Operations

  • Working with basic lists in Python is a great way to start introducing more advanced coding concepts.
  • It allows the developer to manipulate data and create basic structures that are essential for solving programming challenges.
  • Basic list operations in Python include performing basic arithmetic on the numbers contained within a list, accessing elements of an existing list, replacing elements of a list, rearranging elements of a list, concatenating multiple lists together, and duplicating specific entries in a list.
Python ExpressionResultsDescription
len([1, 2, 3])3Length
[1, 2, 3] + [4, 5, 6][1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]Concatenation
['Hi!'] * 4['Hi!', 'Hi!', 'Hi!', 'Hi!']Repetition
3 in [1, 2, 3]TrueMembership
for x in [1, 2, 3]: print x,1 2 3Iteration

List Length

  • The term "list length" in Python describes the quantity of objects (elements) that make up a list.
  • The len() function, which accepts a list as an input and returns an integer corresponding to the list's length, can be used to determine it.


my_list = [10, 20, 30, 40, 50]
length = len(my_list)
print("The length of the list is:", length)

The first line of this code creates the list "my_list," which has five elements. The length of the list is then determined using "len(my_list)" and printed as a message, in this case, "The length of the list is: 5".


The length of the list is: 5

The list() Constructor

  • To build a new list object in Python, use the built-in list() constructor function.
  • There are various methods to utilize it to make a list.


# Using the list() constructor to create a list from a string
string_variable = "Hello, World!"
list_from_string = list(string_variable)

Using the 'list()' constructor, this code breaks the text "Hello, World!" into a list of distinct characters. The resulting list, which has each character as a separate element, is then printed.


['H', 'e', 'l', 'l', 'o', ',', ' ', 'W', 'o', 'r', 'l', 'd', '!']

List Comprehension

  • Python's list comprehension feature is a clear and easy approach to building lists.
  • By applying an expression to each item in an existing iterable (such as a list, tuple, or range) and optionally filtering the elements based on a condition, it enables you to construct a new list.
  • List construction with list comprehensions is more readable and effective than using conventional for loops.

Indexing, Slicing, and Matrixes in Python

  • Indexing, slicing, and matrixes are integral parts of understanding Python.
  • The index function in Python is used to locate a certain item in a string, list, or other data type.
  • It finds the index by searching for the location of the item within its respective data set.
  • Meanwhile, the slice operator in Python is used to create subsets from larger strings and lists by indexing characters at certain locations.
  • Lastly, python matrixes are special groups of elements that use index functions to find items inside them; they are typically used for manipulating numerical data.
  • Together, understanding indexing, slicing, and matrixes in Python can help anyone more efficiently perform complex tasks such as searching for specific database items and running elaborate calculations.
Python ExpressionResultsDescription
L[2]SPAM!Offsets start at zero
L[-2]SpamNegative: count from the right
L[1:]['Spam', 'SPAM!']Slicing fetches sections

Python inbuilt functions

  • Python's built-in functions can be a great tool for a variety of different tasks.
  • These native features of Python provide developers with many opportunities to create useful and efficient code.
  • From basic string manipulations to complex number crunching, python offers powerful commands at our disposal.
  • Highlighting their simplicity and brevity, python's inbuilt functions serve as succinct replacements for longer programming codes that perform the same task.
  • Whether anyone is new to Python or an experienced user, python's inbuilt functions are always worthwhile knowing and utilizing in that particular codebase.
1cmp(list1, list2)Compares elements of both lists.
2len(list)Gives the total length of the list
3max(list)Returns item from the list with a max value
4min(list)Returns item from the list with min value
5list(seq)Converts a tuple into a list.

Built-in Python list methods

1list.append(obj)Appends object obj to list
2list.count(obj)Returns count of how many times obj occurs in a list
3list.extend(seq)Appends the contents of seq to list
4list.index(obj)Returns the lowest index in a list that obj appears
5list.insert(index, obj)Inserts object obj into a list at offset index
6list.pop(obj=list[-1])Removes and returns the last object or obj from the list
7list.remove(obj)Removes object obj from the list
8list.reverse()Reverses objects of the list in place
9list.sort([func])Sorts objects of the list, use compare func if given

Iterating through a List

  • A for loop can be used to repeatedly traverse through a list's components. 


# Create a list of fruits
fruits = ["apple", "banana", "cherry", "date"]
# Iterate through the list using a for loop
for fruit in fruits:

In this example, the list "fruits" has four components. The list is iterated by using a for loop, and at each iteration, the value of the current member in the list is assigned to the variable fruit. Following that, we output the value of the fruit to the console.




1. What are lists in Python?

In Python, lists are ordered collections of elements that can contain elements of many data types and are subject to change.

2. What is the difference between lists and tuples in Python?

Python tuples are immutable, whereas lists are mutable.

3. What is a list of list elements in Python?

In Python, a list of list elements is a nested list where each element is a list in and of itself.

4. What is the syntax for a list in Python?

The Python syntax for constructing a list is "my_list = [1, 2, 3]".

5. What are the properties of a list in Python?

Order preservation, mutability, and support for various data types are all characteristics of lists in Python.

Python lists offer tremendous flexibility and make organizing data a breeze. With the vast range of methods available for manipulating, adding, and deleting list elements, any coding task can become vastly simplified. Now that we have gone through the basics of Python Lists, it should be much easier to build applications or APIs that are powered by lists. So don’t hesitate, you’ll be amazed at how much easier your programming tasks become when you master this essential skill in the Python training.

About Author
Sakshi Dhameja (Author and Mentor)

She is passionate about different technologies like Java, Python, C, C++ etc. and likes to share knowledge with the developer community. She holds strong learning skills in keeping herself updated with the changing technologies in her area as well as other technologies like JavaScript and Cloud.

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