How to get the number of elements in a list in Python?

y2k Source
items = []

items.amount()  # Should return 3

How do I get the number of elements in the list?



answered 8 years ago gnud #1

The len() function can be used with a lot of types in Python - both built-in types and library types.

>>> len([1,2,3])

answered 5 years ago Naftuli Kay #2

While this may not be useful due to the fact that it'd make a lot more sense as being "out of the box" functionality, a fairly simple hack would be to build a class with a length property:

class slist(list):
    def length(self):
        return len(self)

You can use it like so:

>>> l = slist(range(10))
>>> l.length
>>> print l
[0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

Essentially, it's exactly identical to a list object, with the added benefit of having an OOP-friendly length property.

As always, your mileage may vary.

answered 3 years ago Aaron Hall #3

How to get the size of a list?

To find the size of a list, use the builtin function, len:

items = []

And now:


returns 3.

From the docs


Return the length (the number of items) of an object. The argument may be a sequence (such as a string, bytes, tuple, list, or range) or a collection (such as a dictionary, set, or frozen set).

len is implemented with __len__, from the data model docs:


Called to implement the built-in function len(). Should return the length of the object, an integer >= 0. Also, an object that doesn’t define a __nonzero__() [in Python 2 or __bool__() in Python 3] method and whose __len__() method returns zero is considered to be false in a Boolean context.

And we can also see that __len__ is a method of lists:


returns 3.

Builtin types you can get the len (length) of

And in fact we see we can get this information for all of the described types:

>>> all(hasattr(cls, '__len__') for cls in (str, bytes, tuple, list, 
                                            xrange, dict, set, frozenset))

Do not use len as a value for a condition

Do not do:

if len(items): 

Instead, do:

if items:

I explain why here but in short, it is more readable and more performant.

answered 3 years ago Shai Alon #4

Answering your question as the examples also given previously:

items = []

print items.__len__()

answered 1 year ago MSeifert #5

Besides len you can also use operator.length_hint (requires python 3.4+). For normal list both are equivalent but length_hint makes it possible to get the length of a list-iterator, which could be useful in certain circumstances:

>>> from operator import length_hint
>>> l = ["apple", "orange", "banana"]
>>> len(l)
>>> length_hint(l)

>>> list_iterator = iter(l)
>>> len(list_iterator)
TypeError: object of type 'list_iterator' has no len()
>>> length_hint(list_iterator)

But length_hint is by definition only a "hint", so most of the time len is better.

I've seen several answers suggesting accessing __len__. This is alright when dealing with built-in classes like list but it could lead to problems with custom classes because len (and length_hint) implement some safety checks. For example both do not allow negative lengths or lengths that exceed a certain value (the sys.maxsize value). So it's always safer to use the len function instead of the __len__ method!

answered 4 months ago Jonathan Komar #6

And for completeness, it is possible without using the len() function (I would not condone this as a good option):

def count(list):
  item_count = 0
  for item in list[:]:
    item_count = item_count + 1
  return item_count


(the colon in list[:] is implicit, therefore also optional)

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