len function, when applied to a string, returns the number of characters in a string.
To get the last letter of a string, you might be tempted to try something like this:
That won’t work. It causes the runtime error
IndexError: string index out of range. The reason is that there is no
letter at index position 6 in
Since we started counting at zero, the six indexes are
numbered 0 to 5. To get the last character, we have to subtract 1 from
the length. Give it a try in the example above.
Alternatively in Python, we can use negative indices, which count backward from the
end of the string. The expression
fruit[-1] yields the last letter,
fruit[-2] yields the second to last, and so on. Try it!
Most other languages do not allow the negative indices, but they are a handy feature of Python!
Check your understanding
- The blank counts as a character.
- Yes, there are 12 characters in the string.
strings-6-1: What is printed by the following statements?
s = "python rocks" print(len(s))
- Take a look at the index calculation again, len(s)-5.
- Yes, len(s) is 12 and 12-5 is 7. Use 7 as index and remember to start counting with 0.
- s is at index 11
- Error, len(s) is 12 and there is no index 12.
- You subtract 5 before using the index operator so it will work.
strings-6-2: What is printed by the following statements?
s = "python rocks" print(s[len(s)-5])
- Yes, 3 characters from the end.
- Count backward 3 characters.
- When expressed with a negative index the last character s is at index -1.
- Error, negative indices are illegal.
- Python does use negative indices to count backward from the end.
strings-6-3: What is printed by the following statements?
s = "python rocks" print(s[-3])