4. More Control Flow Tools
Besides the while statement just introduced, Python knows the usual control flow statements known from other languages, with some twists.
4.1. if Statements
Perhaps the most well-known statement type is the if statement. For example:
>>> x = int(input("Please enter an integer: "))
Please enter an integer: 42
>>> if x < 0:
... x = 0
... print('Negative changed to zero')
... elif x == 0:
... elif x == 1:
There can be zero or more elif parts, and the else part is optional. The keyword ‘elif‘ is short for ‘else if’, and is useful to avoid excessive indentation. An if ... elif ... elif ... sequence is a substitute for the switch or case statements found in other languages.
4.2. for Statements
The for statement in Python differs a bit from what you may be used to in C or Pascal. Rather than always iterating over an arithmetic progression of numbers (like in Pascal), or giving the user the ability to define both the iteration step and halting condition (as C), Python’s for statement iterates over the items of any sequence (a list or a string), in the order that they appear in the sequence. For example (no pun intended):
>>> # Measure some strings:
... words = ['cat', 'window', 'defenestrate']
>>> for w in words:
... print(w, len(w))
If you need to modify the sequence you are iterating over while inside the loop (for example to duplicate selected items), it is recommended that you first make a copy. Iterating over a sequence does not implicitly make a copy. The slice notation makes this especially convenient:
>>> for w in words[:]: # Loop over a slice copy of the entire list.
... if len(w) > 6:
... words.insert(0, w)