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Python: Return values

In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at how to work with functions we've created to make them useful.

When we define a function, it prints data on the screen:

def greeting():
    print('Hello, Hexlet!')

These functions are of little use, because the result can't be used within the program. Let's look at an example.

Let's say we're processing an email address. When a user registers on the site, they can enter their email address in any way they wants:

  • Add random spaces at the beginning or at the end: _support@hexlet.io__
  • Use letters in different cases:

If we save it that way in the database, the user won't be able to log in. To avoid this, the email must be prepared to be written to the database, we need to convert it to lower case and trim the spaces around the edges of the string. This problem can be solved in a couple of lines:

def save_email():
    # Email comes from the form
    email = '  SuppORT@hexlet.IO'
    # Trim whitespace characters
    trimmed_email = email.strip()
    prepared_email = trimmed_email.lower()
    # Here will be the entry in the database

This code was made possible because the value was returned. The strip() and lower() methods do not print anything on the screen, they return the result of their work. This means we can write it to variables. If they were printed to the screen, we wouldn't be able to assign the result to a variable. For example, we can't do that with the greeting() function:

message = greeting()
# in actual fact, print() returns None
# None is a special object used to represent no value
print(message) # => None

Now change the greeting() function so that it returns data. To do this, let's perform a return instead of printing to the screen:

def greeting():
    return 'Hello, Hexlet!'

`return' is an instruction. It takes the expression written to the right and gives it to the code that called the method. This is where the function ends.

# Now we can use the result of the function
message = greeting()
print(message) # => Hello, Hexlet!
# And even perform some actions on the result
print(message.upper()) # => HELLO, HEXLET!

Any code after return is not executed:

def greeting_with_code_after_return():
    return 'Hello, Hexlet!'
    print('I will never be executed')

Even if the function returns data, this doesn't limit what it prints. In addition to returning data, we can also print:

def greeting_with_return_and_printing():
    print('I will appear in the console')
    return 'Hello, Hexlet!'

# And it'll print the text on the screen and return the value
message = greeting_with_return_and_printing()

You can print more than just a specific value. Since return works with expressions, it can have anything to the right of it. Here we should keep to the principles of code readability:

def greeting():
    message = 'Hello, Hexlet!'
    return message

Here we don't return a variable. The value in this variable is always returned. Below is an example with calculations:

def double_five():
    # или return 5 + 5
    result = 5 + 5
    return result

It's not enough to just define a function. It's also important for it to be useful, and that the result is used. Now think about what the call to the run() function defined below will return?

# Definition
def run():
    return 5
    return 10

# What will be displayed?


Implement the say_hurray_three_times() function, which returns the string 'hurray! hurray! hurray!'.

hurray = say_hurray_three_times()
print(hurray) # => hurray! hurray! hurray!
The exercise doesn't pass checking. What to do? 😶

If you've reached a deadlock it's time to ask your question in the «Discussions». How ask a question correctly:

  • Be sure to attach the test output, without it it's almost impossible to figure out what went wrong, even if you show your code. It's complicated for developers to execute code in their heads, but having a mistake before their eyes most probably will be helpful.
In my environment the code works, but not here 🤨

Tests are designed so that they test the solution in different ways and against different data. Often the solution works with one kind of input data but doesn't work with others. Check the «Tests» tab to figure this out, you can find hints at the error output.

My code is different from the teacher's one 🤔

It's fine. 🙆 One task in programming can be solved in many different ways. If your code passed all tests, it complies with the task conditions.

In some rare cases, the solution may be adjusted to the tests, but this can be seen immediately.

I've read the lessons but nothing is clear 🙄

It's hard to make educational materials that will suit everyone. We do our best but there is always something to improve. If you see a material that is not clear to you, describe the problem in “Discussions”. It will be great if you'll write unclear points in the question form. Usually, we need a few days for corrections.

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