How to compare two strings in python

Comparing strings means checking if two strings are equal, not equal to each other. It also includes determining if one string is greater than or less than the other. Python supports several operators for string related comparisons.

Checking for equality
Determining whether 2 strings are equal to each other is often required in programming. Python provides a couple of ways to check for string equality.

Method 1 : Using == operator
== operator compares the values of two strings and returns True if they are equal, False otherwise. Example,

# equal strings
str1 = "hello"
str2 = "hello"
print(str1 == str2)
 # unequal strings
str3 = "codippa"
print(str1 == str3)

Output

True
False

It is clear from the output that when string values are same, the == operator prints True and when they are not equal, it prints False.

Method 2 : Using is operator
is operator can also be used to check for equality of strings as shown below.

# equal strings
str1 = "hello"
str2 = "hello"
print(str1 is str2)
 # unequal strings
str3 = "codippa"
print(str1 is str3)

Output

True
False

is operator not only compares the value of two strings but also whether they refer to same memory locations. Thus, if the two strings to be compared have same values and point to same memory locations as in the above example.
One would ask how did the two strings in above example point to the same memory locations. This is because python uses the concept of interning strings. This means that if one string is created with some value and if another string is created with same value, then instead of creating a new string, the new string is made to point to same location as earlier one(since they have same values). In that case, is operator will return True.
If the two strings to be compared are created in different ways, then is will not find them equal since they do not have same memory locations despite their values being same as shown below

# initialize a string
str1 = "hello codippa"
# create a string with same value but differently
str2 = "hello"
str2 = str2+" codippa"
print(str1 is str2)

Output will be False although the values are same but their memory locations will be obviously different.
Thus, if you only want to check two strings for value, then go with == and do not use is.

Checking for inequality
You can also check whether two strings are not equal to each other(opposite of above). Python provides an inequality operator for this which is composed of an exclamation mark followed by and equal to sign, that is, !=. It checks the values of strings and returns True if the strings are unequal and False if the strings have same value.
Example,

# check for different strings
str1 = "hello"
str2 = "codippa"
print(str1 != str2)

# check for same strings
str1 = "hello"
str2 = "hello"
print(str1 != str2)

Python provides another operator to check for inequality which is <>(less than symbol followed by greater than symbol) but this operator is available from Python version 3.7 onwards. It works the same way as != operator.

Checking String Differences
It is also possible to check if one string is greater than or lesser than the other using less than(>) and greater than(>) operators. These operators return True or False as the result.
When two string are compared using these operators, python compares them lexicographically, that is, it compares the ASCII value of each character of those strings. Thus, if the first character of the first string is ‘a’ and second string is ‘b’, then the first string will be treated as smaller than second string and < operator will return True for such comparisons. Example,

str1 = "acd"
str2 = "bcd"
print(str1 > str2) # will print False
print(str1 < str2) # will print True

Two strings compared in the above example differ only in their first character with the ASCII value of first character in first string less than that of second string and the results are obvious.

Case insensitive comparison
If you are checking for equality of two strings which have same value but differ in case, then they will be treated as different strings and == operator will return False in that case. If you are only concerned with their values, then convert them to same case using lower() and upper() functions and then compare. Example,

str1 = "acd"
str2 = "ACD"
print(str1 == str2) # will print False
print(str1.upper() == str2) # will print True
print(str1 == str2.lower()) # will print True
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