List vs Tuple in python: what is the Difference?

List vs Tuple: Difference Between List and Tuple

In Python, list and tuple are a class of data structures that can store one or more objects or values. A list is used to store multiple items in one variable and can be created using square brackets.

Similarly, tuples also can store multiple items in a single variable and can be declared using parentheses.

You can also check out our free courses offered by upGrad under Data Science.

In the list vs tuple conversation there is one more thing, that is their modifying nature. The tuples cannot be modified whereas the lists can be modified.

One of the reasons why the tuples are known to have a good memory is because of this non-modifying nature. 

The number of methods available in these two also differ such as tuples have 33 methods whereas the list has 46 available methods. 

There is a difference in python tuple vs list and the syntax for both tuple and the list also differs such as, the items in tuples are surrounded by parentheses( ) and the items in lists are surrounded by square brackets [ ].

The list consumes more storage space than the tuples. Also, the creation and accessing of the lists is a slower process than the tuples. 

The list and tuples are not the same and should not be considered same at all. There is a significant difference between these two.

Apart from the mutability difference, their variable sizes are also different, the lists have a variable size whereas the tuples have affixed size.

Although there are many differences between list and tuple, there are some similarities too, as follows:

  • The two data structures are both sequence data types that store collections of items.
  • Items of any data type can be stored in them.
  • Items can be accessed by their index.

The table below includes the basic difference between list and tuple in Python.

Check out our Python Bootcamp created for working professionals.

Before jumping to Python tuple vs. list differentiation, let’s find out what exactly these two are. 


A list is one of the major Python data structures used to contain a setlist of things called items.

Like arrays, list to tuple Python helps keep similar types of data values together, condensing their code together. This helps perform several detailed operations on multiple values at the same time.

For example, a folder of songs on your desktop has different other subfolders adjusted following different genres for a hassle-free collection.

List to tuple Python is used to improve efficiency and help the system manage all the values together. 


Just like lists, tuples also contain a set of objects in an ordered manner. These objects are kept separated by commas.

Tuples are immutable and do not allow the entrance of additional objects once a tuple is created. Tuples are incapable of expanding or making modifications; therefore, they differ from lists.

Removing elements is also not possible from tuples which restrict its collection. The immutability often serves as an advantage in delivering faster, efficient results. 

While the major purpose and foundation of List vs Tuple Python are the same, various methods differentiate the two.

Here’s what you will find in this Python tuple vs. list blog!

List vs Tuple

Python’s most widely used build-in data types Python List vs Tuple are hard to differentiate between considering many similarities they both emit, confusing Python beginners in using the most appropriate one.

Here’s how you can differentiate between Python List vs Tuple. 

The table below includes the basic difference between list and tuple in Python.

It is mutableIt is immutable
The implication of iterations is time-consuming in the list.Implications of iterations are much faster in tuples.
Operations like insertion and deletion are better performed.Elements can be accessed better.
Consumes more memory.Consumes less memory.
Many built-in methods are available.Does not have many built-in methods.
Unexpected errors and changes can easily occur in lists. Unexpected errors and changes rarely occur in tuples.

Learn more about free online python course for beginners here!

The following sections provide a detailed version of the list vs tuple for better understanding.

Our learners also readExcel online course free!

Difference in syntax

Tuple vs. list Python syntax has a very slight difference between the two but is essential for the right implementation.

One major obvious difference between Python list vs. tuple is list syntax uses a square bracket, while the tuple syntax is surrounded using parentheses. 

As mentioned in the introduction, the syntax for list and tuple are different. For example:

list_num = [10, 20, 30, 40]

tup_num = (10, 20, 30, 40)

Also, check out our business analytics course to widen your horizon.


One of the most important differences between a list and a tuple is that list is mutable, whereas a tuple is immutable. 

This means that in list vs. tuple Python lists can be changed after it is created to comply with requirements, while tuples cannot be changed or altered after their creation following your required edits, causing tuples to have a fixed size. 

So, some operations can work on lists, but not on tuples. For example, in data science, if a list already exists, particular elements of it can be reassigned.

Along with this, the entire list can be reassigned. Elements and slices of elements can be deleted from the list.

On the other hand, particular elements on the tuple cannot be reassigned or deleted, but it is possible to slice it, and even reassign and delete the whole tuple. Because tuples are immutable, they cannot be copied.

An item in the list can be changed, it can be accessed directly.

The items in the list can be changed by using the indexing operator [ ]. The individual values can also be changed in the lists.

Check out: Python vs Java 

Explore our Popular Data Science Courses

Executive Post Graduate Programme in Data Science from IIITBProfessional Certificate Program in Data Science for Business Decision MakingMaster of Science in Data Science from University of Arizona
Advanced Certificate Programme in Data Science from IIITBProfessional Certificate Program in Data Science and Business Analytics from University of MarylandData Science Courses


Although there are many operations similar to both lists and tuples, lists have additional functionalities that are not available with tuples.

These are insert and pop operations, and sorting and removing elements in the list.

There are many operators such as

The + operatorreturns a tuple that contains the first and the second tuple object.
The [ ] operatorThis returns the item at the given index.
The * operatorThis concatenates many copies of a tuple.
The [: ] operatorReturns the item in a specific range, the two index operands are separated by the :: symbol.


Some of the Python functions can be applied to both data structures, such as len, max, min, any, sum, all, and sorted.

Description of some the functions are mentioned below-

  1. max(tuple) → Returns item from the tuple with the max value.
  2. min(tuple) → Returns item from the tuple with the min value.
  3. tuple(seq) → Converts a list into tuple.
  4. cmp(tuple1, tuple2) → Compares the elements of both the mentioned tuples.
Python ExpressionDescription
(1,2) + (3,4)Concatenation
2 in (1,2,3)Membership
(‘Morning’,) * 2Repetition

Must readData structures and algorithms free course!


In Python, tuples are allocated large blocks of memory with lower overhead, since they are immutable; whereas for lists, small memory blocks are allocated.

Between the two, tuples have smaller memory. This helps in making tuples faster than lists when there are a large number of elements.

In simple terms, the size would mean the amount of memory a tuple is storing if it is small or large memory.

The size can be calculated using the built-in len() function.

Also, visit upGrad’s Degree Counselling page for all undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

 In list vs. tuple Python has to provide an extra memory block to lists as it is expandable and might require it with potential modifications. 

Type of elements

Elements belonging to different data types, i.e., heterogeneous elements, are usually stored in tuples.

While homogeneous elements, elements of the same data types, are usually stored in lists. But this is

not a restriction for the data structures.

Similar data type elements can be stored in tuples, and different data type elements can also be stored in lists.

Top Data Science Skills to Learn

Top Data Science Skills to Learn
1Data Analysis CourseInferential Statistics Courses
2Hypothesis Testing ProgramsLogistic Regression Courses
3Linear Regression CoursesLinear Algebra for Analysis


Lengths differ in the two data structures. Tuples have a fixed length, while lists have variable lengths. Thus, the size of created lists can be changed, but that is not the case for tuples.


The methods that apply only to lists in Python are, insert(), clear(), sort(), pop(), reverse(), remove(), and append().

While these methods are only applicable to lists, a few more are shared by both lists and tuples. These include count() and index() methods.


When it comes to debugging, in lists vs tuples, tuples are easier to debug for large projects due to its immutability.

So, if there is a smaller project or a lesser amount of data, it is better to use lists. This is because lists can be changed, while tuples cannot, making tuples easier to track.

Nested lists and tuples

Tuples can be stored in lists, and likewise, lists can be stored inside tuples. In nested tuples, a tuple can hold more tuples and might extend in more than two dimensions.

On the other hand,  in nested lists, a list can hold more lists in countless dimensions as you wish.


It is important to understand that there are different cases where it is better to use one of these data structures, such as; using either one depends on the programmer, i.e., choosing one based on whether they want to change the data later or not.

Tuples can be used as equivalent to a dictionary without keys to store data. When tuples are stored within lists, it is easier to read data. 

Meanwhile, lists can be used to contain similar resembling elements. Tuples are comparatively more time and memory efficient than lists with restricted usage.

However, the lists’ immutability makes it efficient to align with potential changes effectively. 

Read: More types of data structures in Python


In this article we have discussed about difference between list and tuple and understood about them. 

This article helps in understanding the differences between lists and tuples. Even though both types are data structures in Python, it is important to be familiar with these differences when making a choice.

The most important differences to keep in mind is that lists are mutable, and tuples are not, lists have variable sizes and tuples have fixed sizes. Lastly, operations in tuples can be executed faster.

If you are reading this article, most likely you have ambitions towards becoming a Python developer.

If you’re interested to learn python & want to get your hands dirty on various tools and libraries, check out IIIT-B & upGrad’s Executive PG Programme in Data Science.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.