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How to use split in Python

Understanding the Concept of Splitting

Imagine you're a librarian, and you've been handed a long list of book titles, authors, and publication dates, all jumbled together in a single paragraph. You need to organize this information neatly into separate categories. The task seems daunting, doesn't it? In Python, you would use the split() function to simplify this task. Split() is like an efficient assistant that helps you break long strings of text into smaller, more manageable pieces or 'chunks'.

The Basics of Splitting in Python

Let's take a look at how split() works in Python.

text = "Hello, World!"

When you run this code, you get ['Hello,', 'World!']. Python took your sentence and split it into individual words, forming a list.

Further Into Split()

The split() function in Python doesn't just cut at spaces. It can split your string at any character you specify. This is called a 'delimiter'. The delimiter could be a comma, a number, a letter, or even a word.

For instance, if you want to split a string every time a comma appears, you can do it like this:

text = "apple,banana,grape"

When you run this, you get ['apple', 'banana', 'grape']. Python splits your sentence at every comma.

Breaking Down Time Stamps

Let's say you have a timestamp, like '2022-01-01 12:00:00', and you want to separate the date and time. You can use split() to do this.

timestamp = "2022-01-01 12:00:00"

When you run this code, you get ['2022-01-01', '12:00:00']. Python has split your timestamp into date and time.

Splitting Multiple Times

You can also apply split() multiple times. Let's split the date into year, month, and day.

timestamp = "2022-01-01 12:00:00"
date = timestamp.split()[0]

When you run this code, you get ['2022', '01', '01']. Python has split your date into year, month, and day.

Splitting with Maximum Splits

What if you want to split a string but only a certain number of times? Python got you covered. You can specify the maximum number of splits as the second argument to the split() function.

text = "apple banana grape orange strawberry"
print(text.split(' ', 2))

When you run this code, you get ['apple', 'banana', 'grape orange strawberry']. Python only split your string two times and left the rest as it is.

The flip side: Joining Strings

Now, what if you want to do the reverse? You have a list of words and you want to make a sentence out of it. Python's join() function is like a reverse split() function. It combines a list of strings into one string.

words = ['Hello,', 'World!']
print(' '.join(words))

When you run this code, you get "Hello, World!". Python has joined your words into a sentence.


The split() function is a powerful tool in Python that helps you manage and organize your data more efficiently. It's like having a little helper to tidy up your messy room, where each toy represents a piece of data. With the split() function, you can specify where to tidy up (the delimiter), how many toys to put away (maximum splits), and even put the toys back together (with the help of join()). So, the next time you face a large string of text, remember the split() function. It might just be the helper you need. Happy coding!