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3.3: Conditional Execution

In order to write useful programs, we almost always need the ability to check conditions and change the behavior of the program accordingly. Conditional statements give us this ability. The simplest form is the if statement:

if x > 0 :
    print('x is positive')

The boolean expression after the if statement is called the condition. We end the if statement with a colon character (:) and the line(s) after the if statement are indented.

If Logic

If Logic

If the logical condition is true, then the indented statement gets executed. If the logical condition is false, the indented statement is skipped.


if statements have the same structure as function definitions or for loops1. The statement consists of a header line that ends with the colon character (:) followed by an indented block. Statements like this are called compound statements because they stretch across more than one line.

There is no limit on the number of statements that can appear in the body, but there must be at least one. Occasionally, it is useful to have a body with no statements (usually as a place holder for code you haven't written yet). In that case, you can use the pass statement, which does nothing.


if x < 0 :
    pass          # need to handle negative values!

If you enter an if statement in the Python interpreter, the prompt will change from three chevrons to three dots to indicate you are in the middle of a block of statements, as shown below:

>>> x = 3
>>> if x < 10:
...    print('Small')