Python variable scope

By Brian Fitzgerald

Python variable scoping rules are different from other languages. If you are accustomed to java, the behavior may surprise you. Scope can be file, class, or function; however, control blocks such as if-else, try-except, or while do not define scope. A variable that is defined in a control block can be used after the control block.

A simple demonstration case is the if-else block. In function test, variable a is set in the if and else blocks, and is used after the if-else structure.


Not defining a variable before entering a control block is considered idiomatic python. IDE PyCharm reports no warnings. If you try to define variable a before the if-else block, as you would in java, PyCharm greys out a and reports it as an unused variable.


Finally, if statement “a = 0” is changed to “pass”, then in statement “a = None”, a is no longer reported as an unused variable, and is displayed in dark grey.


In conclusion, python scoping is different from java’s. You should not carry java variable declaration habits into python projects.

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