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How to use dictionary in Python

Getting Started with Dictionaries in Python

Dictionaries in Python are important elements that every programmer should understand. They are a type of data structure, which is like a container where you can store different bits and pieces of information. Think of it like a real-life dictionary, where you have a word (the key) and its definition (the value). In Python, we use dictionaries to store data in a similar way.

To create a dictionary, we use curly braces {}. Inside these braces, we add our keys and values, separated by a colon :. For example, here's a simple dictionary that stores different fruit colors:

fruit_colors = {"apple": "red", "banana": "yellow", "grape": "purple"}

Accessing Dictionary Values

Now that we have our dictionary, how do we use it? We can access the data inside a dictionary by referencing the key. For instance, if we want to find out the color of the apple in our fruit_colors dictionary, we would write:

print(fruit_colors["apple"])  # This will output: red

Modifying Dictionaries

There may come a time when we need to update our data. For example, we might discover a new fruit, or we might find out that our fruit's color is wrong. Luckily, Python makes it easy to modify dictionaries.

To add a new item to our dictionary, we simply assign a value to a new key:

fruit_colors["orange"] = "orange"

To change an existing item, we assign a new value to an existing key:

fruit_colors["apple"] = "green"

Removing Items from a Dictionary

Sometimes, we might need to remove items from our dictionary. Python provides the del keyword for this purpose. To delete a key-value pair, we would do:

del fruit_colors["apple"]

Now, our dictionary no longer contains the key "apple" or its associated value.

Checking if a Key Exists

What if we're not sure whether a key exists in our dictionary? Python provides a simple way to check using the in keyword:

if "apple" in fruit_colors:
    print("Apple is in the dictionary!")
    print("Apple is not in the dictionary.")

Looping through a Dictionary

Just like other data types in Python, we can loop through our dictionary. This allows us to perform an action for each item in our dictionary. Here's an example:

for fruit in fruit_colors:
    print("The " + fruit + " is " + fruit_colors[fruit])

This code will print out each fruit and its color.

Dictionary Methods

Python also provides several useful methods that can make working with dictionaries easier.

  • keys(): Returns a new view of the dictionary's keys.
  • values(): Returns a new view of the dictionary's values.
  • items(): Returns a new view of the dictionary’s items (key, value).

Here's how we can use these methods:

print(fruit_colors.keys())  # Outputs: dict_keys(['banana', 'grape', 'orange'])
print(fruit_colors.values())  # Outputs: dict_values(['yellow', 'purple', 'orange'])
print(fruit_colors.items())  # Outputs: dict_items([('banana', 'yellow'), ('grape', 'purple'), ('orange', 'orange')])

Nesting Dictionaries

Sometimes, one dictionary isn't enough. Maybe we have a lot of related data that we want to keep together. In this case, we can put a dictionary inside another dictionary. This is called a nested dictionary. Here's an example:

fruits = {
    "apple": {"color": "red", "taste": "sweet"},
    "lemon": {"color": "yellow", "taste": "sour"},


Just like a real dictionary helps you understand words, a Python dictionary helps you manage and manipulate data. By understanding how to create, modify, access, and loop through dictionaries, you're one step closer to becoming fluent in Python. Remember, dictionaries are your friends. They can hold a lot of different information in an organized and easy-to-access way. So whenever you're dealing with a bunch of related data, consider reaching for a dictionary. Now, go forth and code, and may your journey be filled with fruitful discoveries!