Python filter list

last modified January 29, 2024

Python list filter tutorial shows how to filter lists in Python.


A filtering operation processes a data structure (e.g. a list) and produces a new data structure containing exactly those elements for which the given predicate returns true.

A predicate is a single-argument function which returns a boolean value.

Python filter list with list comprehension

A list comprehension is a syntactic construct which creates a list based on existing list.

A list comprehension creates a new list. It is based on an existing list. A for loop goes through the sequence. For each loop an expression is evaluated if the condition is met. If the value is computed it is appended to the new list. The condition is optional.


a = [-2, 1, -4, 2, 0, -1, 12, -3]

b = [e for e in a if e > 0]

We have a list of integers. We create a new list of positive integers.

b = [e for e in a if e > 0]

To filter out positive numbers, we use an if condition, which is applied on each of the elements; the elements are included into the new list only if they satisfy the condition.

$ ./list_compr.py
[1, 2, 12]

Even numbers are integers that are exactly divisible by 2. Odd numbers are whole numbers that cannot be divided exactly into pairs.


a = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]

b = [e for e in a if e % 2]

The example creates a new filtered list of odd values. To get an odd number, we utilize the % operator.

$ ./list_compr2.py
[1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11]

We can filter values by their data types.


a = ['a', 4, 'c', 12, 'e', 3, 'd']

b = [e for e in a if type(e) == int]
c = [e for e in a if type(e) == str]


In the example, we have a list that is a mix of integers and strings. We separate the integers and strings into two new lists.

b = [e for e in a if type(e) == int]

We use the type built-in function to determine the data type of a value.

$ ./list_compr3.py
[4, 12, 3]
['a', 'c', 'e', 'd']

We can have multiple conditions in a list comprehension.


a = [9, -2, 5, 14, 22, -11, 7, -19, 23]

b = [e for e in a if e % 2 == 0 if e > 0]

The example filters out all positive values that are also evens.

$ ./list_compr4.py
[14, 22]

Python filter list with filter function

The filter is a built-in function which returns iterator from those elements of iterable that satisfy the given predicate. The function predates list comprehensions; it is generally recommended to use list comprehensions.


words = ['sky', 'cloud', 'wood', 'forest', 'tie', 'nice', 'cup']

filtered = filter(lambda e: len(e) == 3, words)

With the filter function, we find out all words that have three characters.

filtered = filter(lambda e: len(e) == 3, words)

As a predicate, we have an anonymous function which checks for the length of the current element.


The filter function returns an iterator; in order to view the elements, we pass the iterator to the list function.

$ ./filter_fun.py 
['sky', 'tie', 'cup']

Python filter list with custom algorithm

The following example uses a custom algorithm to filter a list.


vals = [-1, 2, 0, 11, 9, -3, -4, 3]
positive = []

for val in vals:
    if val > 0:


We use a for loop and a single if condition to filter out all positive values.

$ ./custom_filter.py 
[2, 11, 9, 3]


Python data structures - language reference

In this article we have filtered lists in Python.


My name is Jan Bodnar and I am a passionate programmer with many years of programming experience. I have been writing programming articles since 2007. So far, I have written over 1400 articles and 8 e-books. I have over eight years of experience in teaching programming.

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