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Basic Operations with Dictionaries

Basic Operations with Dictionaries

Dictionaries are a powerful and flexible data structure that allows you to store and manipulate key-value pairs. Let's review some common operations and methods you can perform on dictionaries in Python.

Adding an Element to a Dictionary

There are several ways of item adding to a dictionary.

Value Assignment

To add a key-value pair to a Python dictionary, you can use the following syntax:

my_dict[key] = value

Here, my_dict is the dictionary you want to add an element to, key is the key for the new element, and value is the value for the new element.

For example, if you have an empty dictionary and you want to add a new item to it with the key "name" and the value "John", you can do the following:

my_dict = {}
my_dict["name"] = "John"
print(my_dict) # Output: {'name': 'John'}.

If the key already exists in the dictionary, its value will be updated to the new value. If the key does not exist, a new key-value pair will be added to the dictionary.

The update() Method

The update() method takes another dictionary as an argument and adds its key-value pairs to the original dictionary. If a key already exists in the original dictionary, its value will be updated to the value from the new dictionary.

Here's an example:

my_dict = {'a': 1, 'b': 2}
new_dict = {'c': 3, 'd': 4}


print(my_dict)  # Output: {'a': 1, 'b': 2, 'c': 3, 'd': 4}

Note: There is no built-in append() method for dictionaries, as dictionaries do not have an inherent order. So you can not append an element using append() method.

Deleting an Element From a Dictionary

To delete an item from a dictionary in Python, you can use the del keyword along with the dictionary key.

Here is an example of how to remove a key from dictionary along with its value:

# create a dictionary
my_dict = {'a': 1, 'b': 2, 'c': 3}

# delete an element with key 'b'
del my_dict['b']

# print the updated dictionary
print(my_dict) # Output: {'a': 1, 'c': 3}

In the example above, the del keyword is used to delete the key-value pair with key 'b' from the dictionary my_dict. The resulting dictionary only contains the elements with keys 'a' and 'c'.

Dictionary Iteration or Looping in Python

We will show you how to iterate over a dictionary in Python using a for loop. Here are a few ways of iterating:

  • Iterate over the keys:
# create a dictionary
my_dict = {'a': 1, 'b': 2, 'c': 3}

# iterate over the keys and print them
for key in my_dict:


  • Iterate over the values:
# create a dictionary
my_dict = {'a': 1, 'b': 2, 'c': 3}

# iterate over the values and print them
for value in my_dict.values():


  • Iterate over the key-value pairs:
# create a dictionary
my_dict = {'a': 1, 'b': 2, 'c': 3}

# iterate over the key-value pairs and print them
for key, value in my_dict.items():
    print(key, value)


a 1
b 2
c 3

In the third example, we use the items() method of the dictionary to get a list of the key-value pairs. We then use tuple unpacking to extract the key and value from each pair and print them.

We used for in our examples, but, of course, you can use also while to python loop through a dictionary in Python.

Merging Dictionaries in Python

You can merge two dictionaries using the update() method which we mentioned earlier. The update() method adds the key-value pairs from one dictionary into another dictionary. If a key already exists in the target dictionary, the corresponding value will be updated with the new value.

Here's an example:

dict1 = {'a': 1, 'b': 2}
dict2 = {'b': 3, 'c': 4}


print(dict1) # Output: {'a': 1, 'b': 3, 'c': 4}

In this example, we have two dictionaries dict1 and dict2. We use the update() method to merge dict2 into dict1. The resulting dictionary is {'a': 1, 'b': 3, 'c': 4}.

Note: when the update() method is called, it modifies the dictionary on which it is called. If you don't want to modify the original dictionary, you can create a new dictionary and use the update() method to merge the two dictionaries.

Ordered or Sorted Dictionary

In Python 3.7 and later versions, dictionaries are guaranteed to maintain the order of their items as they were added. This means that the items in a dictionary will be iterated over in the same order as they were inserted.

Prior to Python 3.7, dictionaries did not preserve the order of their items, and iterating over a dictionary would return its items in an arbitrary order.

You can get dictionary sorted its keys or values. Dictionary ordering can be done using the built-in sorted() function, which returns a list of the dictionary's keys or values in sorted order. For example:

my_dict = {'c': 3, 'a': 1, 'b': 2}

# sort by keys
sorted_dict_by_keys = {k: my_dict[k] for k in sorted(my_dict)}

# sort by values
sorted_dict_by_values = {k: v for k, v in sorted(my_dict.items(), key=lambda item: item[1])}

Note that in the above example, the original dictionary my_dict is not modified, and two new dictionaries sorted_dict_by_keys and sorted_dict_by_values are created instead.

Printing a Dictionary

To print a dictionary in Python, you can use the built-in print() function. There are different ways to print a dictionary depending on how you want to format the output.

Here is an example of how to print a dictionary:

my_dict = {'apple': 1, 'pineapple': 2, 'orange': 3}

# Print the dictionary using the print() function

This will output the following:

{'apple': 1, 'pineapple': 2, 'orange': 3}

If you want to print each key-value pair of the dictionary on a separate line, you can use a for loop to iterate over the dictionary and print each item:

my_dict = {'apple': 1, 'pineapple': 2, 'orange': 3}

# Print each key-value pair on a separate line
for key, value in my_dict.items():
    print(key, ":", value)

This will output the following:

apple : 1
pineapple : 2
orange : 3

Dictionary to JSON Conversion in Python

You can use the built-in json module in Python to convert a dictionary to JSON format.

Here is an example code snippet:

import json

# sample dictionary
my_dict = {'name': 'John', 'age': 30, 'city': 'New York'}

# convert dictionary to JSON
json_obj = json.dumps(my_dict)

# print the JSON object

In this example, the json.dumps() function is used to convert the dictionary my_dict to a JSON object json_obj. The print() function is used to display the JSON object on the console.


{"name": "John", "age": 30, "city": "New York"}

You can also save the JSON object to a file by using the json.dump() function. Here is an example:

import json

# sample dictionary
my_dict = {'name': 'John', 'age': 30, 'city': 'New York'}

# save dictionary to a JSON file
with open('data.json', 'w') as f:
    json.dump(my_dict, f)

In this example, the json.dump() function is used to save the dictionary my_dict to a file named data.json. The file is opened in write mode using the with statement.

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Updated: 05/03/2024 - 21:53
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