Intro to for Loops

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Understanding For Loops and Break Statement in Python


For loops are an integral part of any programming language, including Python. They allow us to execute a block of code multiple times, which is particularly useful when we want to iterate over a sequence such as a list, a tuple, a dictionary, a string, etc. In this post, we will also cover the usage of the 'break' statement which allows us to have more control over the loop's execution.

Basic For Loop Structure

The basic structure of a for loop in Python is as follows:

for variable in sequence:
    # statements to execute for each iteration

Here, 'variable' is the variable that takes the value of the item inside the sequence on each iteration. The 'sequence' could be any iterable object in Python.

Example 1:

for i in range(5):

In the above code, range(5) generates a sequence of numbers from 0 to 4. For each iteration, the value of 'i' changes to the next number in the sequence, and the print statement is executed.

Looping Through Lists

You can directly loop through the items of a list without needing the index.

Example 2:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana', 'cherry']

for fruit in fruits:

In this example, the for loop goes through each fruit in the list and prints it.

The enumerate() Function

If you want both the index and the item, you can use the enumerate() function.

Example 3:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana', 'cherry']

for i, fruit in enumerate(fruits):
    print(f"I ate {fruit} at position {i}.")

This will print the index ('i') and the fruit at that index.

Looping Through Dictionaries

When looping through dictionaries, the key is assigned to the variable in the for loop.

Example 4:

fruit_colors = {'apple': 'red', 'banana': 'yellow', 'cherry': 'red'}

for fruit in fruit_colors:
    print(f"The color of {fruit} is {fruit_colors[fruit]}.")

If you want to iterate through both keys and values, you can use the .items() method.

for fruit, color in fruit_colors.items():
    print(f"The color of {fruit} is {color}.")

Break and Continue Statements

In a for loop, break stops the loop before it has looped through all the items, and continue stops the current iteration and continues with the next.

Breaking It Down: Understanding the 'break' Statement

In Python, the break statement provides a means to prematurely exit a loop. When Python encounters a break, it immediately stops the loop execution and moves on to the next section of code outside the loop. It's especially handy when we want to terminate the loop based on a certain condition.

Example 5:

for i in range(5):
    if i == 3:

In this example, the loop will terminate when i equals 3, so the numbers printed will be 0, 1, and 2. The number 3 won't be printed because as soon as i equals 3, the break statement is encountered and the loop ends.

Using 'break' in Nested Loops

When used within nested loops, the break statement will only terminate the loop it is directly inside. The outer loops will continue their execution.

Example 6:

for x in range(3):
    for y in range(3):
        if y == 2:
        print(f"x: {x}, y: {y}")

In this nested loop scenario, the inner loop (y loop) will break when y equals 2. However, the outer loop (x loop) will continue to execute. Hence, the pairs printed will be (0, 0), (0, 1), (1, 0), (1, 1), (2, 0), (2, 1).

Combining 'break' with an 'else' Clause

In Python, a for loop can have an optional else clause. The else part is executed if the loop finishes normally (if the break statement is never encountered).

Example 7:

for i in range(5):
    if i == 5:
    print("Not found!")

In this example, the else block is executed because the break statement is never encountered - the loop ends normally. Hence, "Not found!" will be printed. If i == 5 were true at any point during the loop, "Found!" would be printed and the loop would prematurely end.


For loops in Python provide a powerful way to deal with repetitive tasks. The break statement is a powerful tool in Python, allowing us to have a finer control over our loops. It's particularly useful when we want to exit a loop based on specific conditions, which can make our programs more efficient and easier to understand. As always, the best way to learn is by writing and debugging your own code, so don't hesitate to experiment with what you've learned in this post!


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