What Are Python Reserved Keywords?

Python reserved keywords are those words in Python programming language that have a specific meaning in a program. These keywords have specific actionable functionalities defined to it in Python. We are not allowed to re-use these reserved keywords. It is also not possible to override the keywords in Python.

Why Do We Have Python Reserved Keywords?

A programming language is defined by a set of keywords that have specific functionalities attach to it. Python programming language is no different from this. There are a set of keywords defined in Python language that performs specific tasks within the program where they are used.

Python Logo For Reserved Keywords In Python

For example, print is a keyword in Python which instructs the Python interpreter (i.e. the Python environment where Python programs run) to print a string to the output terminal. So a Python program line like:

print('Hello, World!')

will print the string:

Hello, World!

to the computer output screen that its user can see. We as a programmer are never allowed to use same keyword “print” for any other purposes like variable name or function name. Thus, we say that it is a Python reserved keyword.

Similarly, the keyword input is used to receive input from the user of a Python program. So a line in the program like:

user_name = input('Enter your name')

will display the string:

Enter your name

on the user screen and wait until the user enters his name. Once he enters the name and hits the “Enter” key, the name gets stored in the variable “user_name“.

So as you can see here, each of these reserved keywords such as print, input etc. each have a very specific functionality attached to it in Python language. We cannot use these same keywords as a variable name or function names. Trying to do so will result in the interpreter throwing error at us!

So now that we understand about reserved keywords in Python, what can we do about them?

For one, we need to know about all the Python reserved keywords to avoid using them in other ways in our program. But in addition to this, knowing about these reserved keywords and their intended functionalities will also help us write useful programs.

Using Reserved Keywords In Python Programs

Python programs are nothing but a bunch of reserved keywords used upon a set of variables to perform certain operations. So we use these set of keywords to write our programs. For example, if we take a look at the below program:

user_name = input('Enter your name')
print('Hello, ' + user_name + '!')

This program simply prompts for an user to enter his name. When he does so, it will just wish Hello to him by addressing his name. So when I run this program, the output I get is something akin to this:

'Enter your name'
> Amar
> Hello, Amar!


So in short, we can say that reserved keywords are a set of words in Python that have pre-defined meaning and functionalities associated with them. We make use of these keywords to write our program and we are not allowed to re-use the same words in our variables or function names. In other words, we are not allowed to alter their pre-defined meaning.

By Amar Nath

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