What Data Structure Are Lists in Python?


Scott Campbell

Data structures are an essential concept in programming, as they allow us to store and organize data efficiently. In Python, one commonly used data structure is the list. Lists in Python are a versatile and powerful tool that can hold a collection of items, which can be of different types.

Creating a List

To create a list in Python, we use square brackets ([]) and separate the items with commas. Let’s say we want to create a list of fruits:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana', 'orange', 'grape']

In this example, we have created a list called fruits with four items: apple, banana, orange, and grape.

Accessing List Items

We can access individual items in a list using their index. The index starts from 0 for the first item and increments by 1 for each subsequent item. Let’s say we want to access the second item (banana) in our fruits list:

second_fruit = fruits[1]

This will output banana, as it is at index 1 in the list.


  • The index can also be negative, where -1 refers to the last item, -2 refers to the second last item, and so on.
  • If we try to access an index that is out of range or does not exist in the list, Python will raise an IndexError.

List Methods and Operations

Python provides various methods and operations to manipulate lists. Let’s explore some commonly used ones:

Adding Items to a List

  • append(): Adds an item to the end of the list.
  • insert(): Inserts an item at a specific index in the list.

Removing Items from a List

  • remove(): Removes the first occurrence of an item from the list.
  • pop(): Removes an item at a specific index and returns its value.

List Operations

  • len(): Returns the number of items in the list.
  • sort(): Sorts the items in ascending order.
  • reverse(): Reverses the order of items in the list.

List Slicing

List slicing allows us to extract a portion of a list by specifying a start and end index. The result is a new list that contains only the selected elements. Let’s say we want to extract the first three fruits from our fruits list:

first_three_fruits = fruits[0:3]

This will output [apple, banana, orange], as slicing includes all elements from the start index (0) up to, but not including, the end index (3).

List Comprehension

List comprehension is a concise way of creating lists based on existing lists. It allows us to apply transformations or filters while creating a new list. Let’s say we want to create a new list that contains the lengths of each fruit in our fruits list:

fruit_lengths = [len(fruit) for fruit in fruits]

This will output [5, 6, 6, 5], which represents the lengths of each fruit in the original list.


In Python, lists are a versatile and powerful data structure that allows us to store and manipulate collections of items. They provide various methods and operations to add, remove, and modify items.

List slicing and comprehension further enhance the capabilities of lists. By understanding lists and their operations, you can effectively work with collections of data in Python.

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