How to use Python sort – with example

  • Reading time:14 mins read

What is Python sort?

Python sort is a method that we can use to arrange lists in ascending order or based on any criteria that we give it. We can give it nothing or we can ask it to be reversed or we can give it a function to make it more specific and useful to us.



How to use Python sort?

To demonstrate how a list is sorted let’s create a list of animals as shown here: animals = [‘bird’,’giraffe’,’elephant’,’tiger’, ‘monkey’]. If we print this list out we will get exactly what is shown in the list above. However, we can ask Python to sort the list for us by just typing “animals.sort()”; it is followed by a pair of parentheses since this is the method that we are calling. Now if we proceed to print out the list again we will get the list printed out in a different order.



We can see that the order has slightly changed and we are now in alphabetical order of our list. 


Learn Python sort online


We can also reverse this list by simply passing in the reverse is equal to true within the parentheses. Now, this is going to reverse the list and it is something that one should definitely consider knowing.



We can also use this method with dictionaries and to demonstrate that we are going to create a list of dictionaries called “animals_dict” and then use a function to sort them out. If we try to sort them out using “animals_dict.sort()” we will definitely get an error as shown below.



Now to avoid this we will have to write a function in this example we will name it “sortbyweight” and then pass in “w” as the parameter and then in the return statement, we have to specify the key that we are going to sort the dictionary by. In this case, we want to sort by the weight key. All we need to do now is take the name of the function that we have just created and pass it to the Python sort method we can say the key is equal to sortbyweight.



The second output is the dictionary that shows a list of animals sorted out while the first output is before sorting out.


Python sort is a useful tool while coding


We can also reverse this as well so that we can get the heaviest animal first. To accomplish this we only need to add “reverse = True” to the method within the parentheses as shown below.




This is how to use the Python sort method in practice. If you’d like to see more programming tutorials, check out our Youtube channel, where we have plenty of Python video tutorials in English.

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