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The split() Function in Python

Python supports object-oriented programming and has a concise, readable, and easy-to-learn syntax. It is no wonder that it is one of the most popular programming languages. An integral part of Python are its built-in functions. You would have surely used some of these functions in your programs. 

We've written a series of articles to help you learn and brush up on the most useful Python functions. In this article, we’ll learn about Python's split() function and how to use it.

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In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What is the split() Function in Python, and What Does It Do?
  • Syntax for split() Function 
  • The split() Function in Python: Example 
  • FAQs on split() Function in Python

What Is the split() Function in Python and What Does It Do?

The split() function in Python operates on strings. It takes a string as input and splits it wherever it encounters a “separator” (a character that acts as a marker for the split). The output is a list of strings, where the elements are the individual parts of the input string after the splits. 

By default, split() assumes the separator to be whitespace (“ ”). So if we call the split() function for a normal English sentence, the output would be a list of words of that sentence. Suppose the input is a string of words separated by commas (“,”), and we specify that the separator should be the comma character. In that case, the output will be a list where the elements are the individual words of the input string.

Syntax for split() Function 

string.split(separator, maxsplit)

  • string is the string or the name of the string variable that we want to split (input).
  • separator (optional) is the character at which the input string splits.
  • maxsplit (optional) is the maximum number of splits that can be performed on the input string. If the separator appears more times than the value of maxsplit, then we cut the input string as many times as the value of maxsplit. After that, the rest of the string becomes one single list element in the output list.

The split() Function in Python: Example 

Here, we take a look at how you can use the Python function split() next time you need it:


txt = "John and Paul formed a band"

split1 = txt.split()

split2 = txt.split("and")

split3 = txt.split(" ", 3)

print("split1 looks like")


print("\nsplit2 looks like")


print("\nsplit3 looks like")


txt = "John,Paul,George,Ringo formed a band"

split4 = txt.split(",")

print("\nsplit4 looks like")



split1 looks like

['John', 'and', 'Paul', 'formed', 'a', 'band']

split2 looks like

['John ', ' Paul formed a b', '']

split3 looks like

['John', 'and', 'Paul', 'formed a band']

split4 looks like

['John', 'Paul', 'George', 'Ringo formed a band']

Found this article useful? You can learn about more Python functions in our learn folder. 

FAQs on split() Function in Python

Q1. Can the input to the split() function in Python only be a string?

Yes. Since it is a string method, split() can only be invoked on strings.

Q2. Can the separator in Python’s split() function be a word?

Absolutely! The separator just needs to be a string. "A and B".split("and") will return ['A ', ' B']

Q3. For the split() function in Python, what will the data type of the individual elements of the output array be?

The individual elements in the list will always be strings themselves.

Q4. Can the separator in Python’s split() function be a number?

Yes and no. For example, the separator can’t be the integer 2, but the separator can be the character “2”. For example, "1232425262".split("2") will return ['1', '3', '4', '5', '6', ''].

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