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The pass Statement - Python

In this seventh part of a nine-part series on the Python language, we continue our discussion of statements and move on to functions. This article is excerpted from chapter four of the book Python in a Nutshell, Second Edition, written by Alex Martelli (O'Reilly; ISBN: 0596100469). Copyright 2007 O'Reilly Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission from the publisher. Available from booksellers or direct from O'Reilly Media.

  1. Python Statements and Functions
  2. The break Statement
  3. The pass Statement
  4. Functions
By: O'Reilly Media
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October 23, 2008

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The body of a Python compound statement cannot be empty; it must always contain at least one statement. You can use a pass statement, which performs no action, as a placeholder when a statement is syntactically required but you have nothing to do. Here's an example of using pass in a conditional statement as a part of somewhat convoluted logic to test mutually exclusive conditions:

  if condition1(x):
  elif x>23 or condition2(x) and x<5:
pass                       # nothing to be done in this case
  elif condition3(x):

Note that, as the body of an otherwise empty def or class statement, you may use a docstring, covered in "Docstrings" on page 72; if you do write a docstring, then you do not need to also add a pass statement, although you are still allowed to do so if you wish.

The try and raise Statements

Python supports exception handling with the try statement, which includes try, except, finally, and else clauses. A program can explicitly raise an exception with the raise statement. As I discuss in detail in "Exception Propagation" on page 126, when an exception is raised, normal control flow of the program stops, and Python looks for a suitable exception handler.

The with Statement

In Python 2.5, a with statement has been added as a more readable alternative to the try/finally statement. I discuss it in detail in "The with statement" on page 125.

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