Programmers generally choose names for their variables that are meaningful—they document what the variable is used for.
Variable names can be arbitrarily long. They can contain both letters and numbers, but they have to begin with a letter. It is legal to use uppercase letters, but it is a good idea to begin variable names with a lowercase letter (you’ll see why later).
The underscore character,
_, can appear in a name. It is often used in names with multiple words, such as
If you give a variable an illegal name, you get a syntax error:
>>> 76trombones = 'big parade' SyntaxError: invalid syntax >>> more@ = 1000000 SyntaxError: invalid syntax >>> class = 'Advanced Theoretical Zymurgy' SyntaxError: invalid syntax
76trombones is illegal because it does not begin with a letter.
more@ is illegal because it contains an illegal character,
@. But what’s wrong with
It turns out that
class is one of Python’s keywords. The interpreter uses keywords to recognize the structure of the program, and they cannot be used as variable names.
Python 2 has 31 keywords:
and del from not while as elif global or with assert else if pass yield break except import print class exec in raise continue finally is return def for lambda try
In Python 3,
exec is no longer a keyword, but
You might want to keep this list handy. If the interpreter complains about one of your variable names and you don’t know why, see if it is on this list.