Python Lesson #3:
Data Structures (Tuples, Lists)

Data structures

Data structures let us group together data types. They’re useful for storing several pieces of information in one place. In these lessons, we’ll be using three kinds of data structures: tuples, lists, and dictionaries. This lesson will cover tuples and lists, and a later one will cover dictionaries.


Tuples are somewhat specific to Python, as most other languages don’t have them. They are iterable (meaning you can go through each element in sequence) and immutable (meaning you cannot change what is inside of them). An example:

my_tuple = ("red", "orange", "yellow")

Here, the tuple my_tuple stores the values "red", "orange", and "yellow". Each item is separated by a comma and the whole tuple is enclosed with (). Each value gets assigned a number in sequential order, also called an index, which we can use to access specific items. An item can be accessed by using name[#], where name is the name of the tuple and # is the index number of the item.


When run, this should print out red, orange, then yellow on separate lines. Computers count from zero.

Since you cannot change the values inside tuples, they are only used when you know the values should never change. You likely will not be using tuples as much as lists.


Lists are more commonly used than tuples because they are both iterable (meaning you can go through each element in sequence) and mutable (meaning you can change what is inside of them). An example:

my_list = ["green", "blue", "purple"]

Just like tuples, you can access each element with the same syntax:

my_list = ["green", "blue", "purple"]

When run, this should print out green, blue, and purple on separate lines.

To replace values within lists, you can access the value then use an equal sign to reassign it to something else. An example:

my_list = ["green", "blue", "purple"]
my_list[2] = "indigo"

In the first line, the list my_list is created along with its stored values. In the second line, the computer prints out the original list. In the third line, the second index of the list which is "purple" is accessed (remember that computers count from zero) then changed to "indigo". In the fourth line the updated list is printed, with "indigo" now in place of "purple".

Appending to lists

To add another value to a list, the .append() function is needed. It can be applied to a list like this:



my_list = ["green", "blue", "purple"]

It prints ["green", "blue", "purple", "black"].

Removing from lists

To remove a value from a list, the .remove() function is needed. It can be applied like this:


You need to tell the function the value of the item that you want removed, not its index. Example:

my_list = ["green", "blue", "purple"]

It prints ["green", "blue"].

Try it!

Create a shopping list named shop_list with "apples" and "bananas" inside.

Using .append(), add "oranges" and "bread".

Using .remove(), remove "apples".

Don’t forget to use print(shop_list) in between lines to see the contents of the shopping list at different stages!


The print() lines aren’t necessary, but they let us see the changes we make to the list after every line.

shop_list = ["apples", "bananas"]