Fix Python – How to specify multiple return types using type-hints

Question

Asked By – Yahya Uddin

I have a function in python that can either return a bool or a list. Is there a way to specify the return types using type hints?

For example, is this the correct way to do it?

def foo(id) -> list or bool:
    ...

Now we will see solution for issue: How to specify multiple return types using type-hints


Answer

From the documentation

class typing.Union

Union type; Union[X, Y] means either X or Y.

Hence the proper way to represent more than one return data type is

from typing import Union


def foo(client_id: str) -> Union[list,bool]

But do note that typing is not enforced. Python continues to remain a dynamically-typed language. The annotation syntax has been developed to help during the development of the code prior to being released into production. As PEP 484 states, “no type checking happens at runtime.”

>>> def foo(a:str) -> list:
...     return("Works")
... 
>>> foo(1)
'Works'

As you can see I am passing a int value and returning a str. However the __annotations__ will be set to the respective values.

>>> foo.__annotations__ 
{'return': <class 'list'>, 'a': <class 'str'>}

Please Go through PEP 483 for more about Type hints. Also see What are type hints in Python 3.5??

Kindly note that this is available only for Python 3.5 and upwards. This is mentioned clearly in PEP 484.


From Python 3.10 onwards, there is a new way to represent this union. See Union Type:

A union object holds the value of the | (bitwise or) operation on multiple type objects. These types are intended primarily for type annotations. The union type expression enables cleaner type hinting syntax compared to typing.Union.

As we can see, this is exactly the same as typing.Union in the previous versions. Our previous example can be modified to use this notation:

def foo(client_id: str) -> list | bool:

This question is answered By – Bhargav Rao

This answer is collected from stackoverflow and reviewed by FixPython community admins, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0