Fix Python – What is a None value?


Asked By – The_Diver

I have been studying Python, and I read a chapter which describes the None value, but unfortunately this book isn’t very clear at some points. I thought that I would find the answer to my question, if I share it there.

I want to know what the None value is and what do you use it for?

And also, I don’t get this part of the book:

Assigning a value of None to a variable is one way to reset it to
its original, empty state.

What does that mean?

The answers were great, although I didn’t understand most of answers due to my low knowledge of the computer world (I haven’t learned about classes, objects, etc.). What does this sentence mean?

Assigning a value of None to a variable is one way to reset it
to its original, empty state.


Finally I’ve got my answer from looking to different answers. I must appreciate all the people who put their times to help me (especially Martijn Pieters and DSM), and I wish that I could choose all answers as the best, but the selection is limited to one. All of the answers were great.

Now we will see solution for issue: What is a None value?


Martijn’s answer explains what None is in Python, and correctly states that the book is misleading. Since Python programmers as a rule would never say

Assigning a value of None to a variable is one way to reset it to
its original, empty state.

it’s hard to explain what Briggs means in a way which makes sense and explains why no one here seems happy with it. One analogy which may help:

In Python, variable names are like stickers put on objects. Every sticker has a unique name written on it, and it can only be on one object at a time, but you could put more than one sticker on the same object, if you wanted to. When you write

F = "fork"

you put the sticker “F” on a string object "fork". If you then write

F = None

you move the sticker to the None object.

What Briggs is asking you to imagine is that you didn’t write the sticker "F", there was already an F sticker on the None, and all you did was move it, from None to "fork". So when you type F = None, you’re “reset[ting] it to its original, empty state”, if we decided to treat None as meaning empty state.

I can see what he’s getting at, but that’s a bad way to look at it. If you start Python and type print(F), you see

>>> print(F)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
NameError: name 'F' is not defined

and that NameError means Python doesn’t recognize the name F, because there is no such sticker. If Briggs were right and F = None resets F to its original state, then it should be there now, and we should see

>>> print(F)

like we do after we type F = None and put the sticker on None.

So that’s all that’s going on. In reality, Python comes with some stickers already attached to objects (built-in names), but others you have to write yourself with lines like F = "fork" and A = 2 and c17 = 3.14, and then you can stick them on other objects later (like F = 10 or F = None; it’s all the same.)

Briggs is pretending that all possible stickers you might want to write were already stuck to the None object.

This question is answered By – DSM

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