Python 5: For Loops

python-logoWelcome to my new post on Python. In this post, for loops will be covered.


Looping means to repeat. We use this technique in programming to repeat tasks. We define the condition for repetition or the number of iterations to repeat and according to that condition, tasks will get repeated.

In Python, there are two kinds of looping statements. For loop and while loop. In this post for loop will be discussed. While loop will be discussed in next post.

For Loop

For loop is one of the mostly used looping techniques in many programming languages. In for loops, we define the number of iterations to loop. We can also define inner loops also known as nested loops.


Syntax of for loop is:

for var_name in sequence:
    #do something

Here var_name is the variable that holds the current value. The current value is extracted by traversing the sequence.

for i in [1,2,3,4]:

This code will print from 1 to 4. In each iteration i holds the value it extracts from the list[1,2,3,4].

What does it mean by sequence?

Sequence or iterable(as called in languages) is a data type that can be traversed from beginning to end by incrementing the position. In above example, we’ve used list for traversing. Other data structures like tuple and dictionary can also be used for traversal. range function can also be used. Just remember that must be a data structure that can be traversed.

Nested Loops

Nested loop means using a loop statement inside another loop statement. We can use for loop inside loop statement and that is called a loop statement.

for i in [1, 2, 3, 4]:
    for j in range(i):
        print("i = {0}; j = {1}".format(i, j))

Output of above code will be:
i = 1; j = 0
i = 2; j = 0
i = 2; j = 1
i = 3; j = 0
i = 3; j = 1
i = 3; j = 2
i = 4; j = 0
i = 4; j = 1
i = 4; j = 2
i = 4; j = 3

As you can see, every iteration of inner loop runs for every iteration of outer loop. i.e:

  • while i is 1, j runs from 0 to 0
  • while i is 2, j runs from 0 to 1
  • while i is 3, j runs from 0 to 2
  • while i is 4, j runs from 0 to 3

For range function, last index is exclusive. You can increasing nesting to any level. Using deep level of nesting will increase the number of iterations. So keep that in mind.

Looping in dictionary

In previous examples, looping was done in list. Similar is the case for tuples as well. Looping in a dictionary is a bit different. Its because, dictionary consists of key, values and we can choose to loop using both key value or only of them. Post on dictionaries is available here if you want to learn about dictionaries.

country_cap = {"Nepal": "Kathmandu", "India": "Delhi", "China": "Beijing", "USA": "Washigton"}

#looping in both key and value
for coun, cap in country_cap.items():
    print("country = {0}; capital = {1}".format(coun, cap))

#looping onlt in keys
for coun in country_cap.keys():
    print("country = {0}".format(coun))

#looping in values
for cap in country_cap.values():
    print("capital = {0}".format(cap))

In above code, function items(), keys() and values() return the iterable sequence. items() returns sequence of pairs of key and value, keys() return sequence of keys and values() returns sequence of values. Looping is then done in the similar way as discussed earlier.

Loop Control Statements

We can control the running iterations of loop. For that Python provides two keywords: break and continue.


  • Break terminates the currently running loop and resumes execution from the  statement immediately after the loop
  • It can be used in both for and while loop
  • In case of nested loops, it stops the execution of the innermost loop
for item in [1, 2, 3]:
    for letter in 'hello':
        if letter == 'l':
        print("inner loop letter = {0}".format(letter))
    print("outer loop item = {0}".format(item))

On running above code, it can be seen that the outer loop runs three times according to the items of list but the inner loop run only two times for each outer loop. That is because l is the item in which loop is stopped. i.e: loop runs for h and e. After h and e, the loop is terminated.


  • It skips the currently running statement of the loop but resumes the remaining statements of the same loop
  • While comparing with break: break will stop the current loop while continue will skip the selected statement of current loop and continue with others.
for item in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]:
    if item == 3:

On running the above code, it can be seen that 3 is not printed due to continue. All other numbers except 3 are printed. The iteration in which item is 3 is skipped and remaining iterations are executed.

I hope this post was useful to you. I’ll update if I find anything missing. Please leave comments if you have any queries/suggestion. I’ll see you in the next one.  Cheers 🙂



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s