What are the differences between Python 2 and Python 3?

Python 2 vs Python 3: Key Differences Explained

Are you curious about the differences between Python 2 and Python 3? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the essential changes, highlight key improvements, and explain why Python 3 is now the go-to choice for developers worldwide. Whether you’re a seasoned programmer or just starting, understanding these differences is crucial for your coding journey.


Python has been a beloved programming language for decades, known for its simplicity and readability. But, as technology evolved, so did Python, leading to the creation of Python 3, which brought significant changes over its predecessor, Python 2. This transition hasn’t been seamless for everyone, but understanding the key differences is essential for staying current in the tech world.

Key Differences Between Python 2 and Python 3

1. Print Statement vs. Print Function

  • Python 2: print "Hello, World!"
  • Python 3: print("Hello, World!")

In Python 2, print is treated as a statement, whereas in Python 3, it’s a function, requiring parentheses.

2. Integer Division

  • Python 2: 5 / 2 results in 2
  • Python 3: 5 / 2 results in 2.5

Python 3 changes the division operator to always return a float. For integer division, Python 3 introduces the // operator.

3. Unicode Support

  • Python 2: Strings are ASCII by default.
  • Python 3: Strings are Unicode by default.

Python 3’s default Unicode support makes it more suitable for international applications.

4. Syntax Changes

  • Python 2: xrange() for iterations.
  • Python 3: range() replaces xrange() and behaves like xrange() in Python 2.

5. Library Support

Many modern libraries have dropped Python 2 support, making Python 3 essential for accessing the latest tools and frameworks.

6. Error Handling

  • Python 2: except Exception, e:
  • Python 3: except Exception as e:

Python 3 uses a clearer syntax for exception handling.

7. Function Annotations

Python 3 introduces function annotations for better code readability and support for type hints.

8. New Syntax Features

Python 3 introduces several new syntax features, such as f-strings for easier string formatting:

  • Python 2: "%s %s" % (var1, var2)
  • Python 3: f"{var1} {var2}"

Why Transition to Python 3?

1. End of Life for Python 2

Python 2 reached its end of life on January 1, 2020. This means no more updates, bug fixes, or security patches, making Python 3 the only viable option for new projects.

2. Better Performance and Features

Python 3 includes performance improvements and new features that make coding more efficient and enjoyable.

3. Community and Library Support

The Python community and most libraries have moved to Python 3, ensuring better support and resources for developers.

4. Future-Proofing

Using Python 3 ensures that your codebase remains relevant and maintainable in the future.