Python Tutorial



Python Tutorial

Self in Python


Python, cherished for its approachability and versatility, has captured the hearts of developers worldwide. Yet, amidst its simplicity lies a profound concept that is foundational to object-oriented programming in Python: "self." In this extensive exploration, we'll dive into the Python self type, its pivotal role in creating clean and organized code, and the subtle distinctions that set it apart from other programming languages. 


Before we embark on our journey into the intricacies of the self parameter in Python, it's essential to establish a broad understanding. Self in Python is not a mere keyword; it is a practice. It acts as a reference to the instance of a class and a gateway to instance-specific attributes and methods. To truly appreciate the essence of "self," let's journey deeper into its functionality. 

What is the Self Method in Python? 

Now, what is self in Python? The "self" method stands at the core of Python's object-oriented philosophy. It serves as the conduit through which we access instance-specific attributes and methods. Let's solidify our understanding through practical examples. 

Example 1: Basic Usage 

Class MyClass:  

class MyClass:
    def __init__(self, name): = name
    def greet(self):
        return f"Hello, I am {}"
obj = MyClass("Alice")

In this illustrative example, we've crafted a class called MyClass. Inside this class, the __init__ method, often called the constructor, welcomes two parameters: "self" and "name." Here, "self" represents the instance of the class, while "name" is a parameter provided during the creation of an object from this class. The __init__ method's mission is to initialize attributes for the instance. In this instance, it assigns the "name" parameter to the instance's attribute. 

Furthermore, we've introduced another method, greet, which employs the attribute to create a personalized greeting for the instance. When we build an object obj of MyClass and invoke the greet method, we receive a tailored greeting: "Hello, I am Alice." 

Example 2: Attribute Manipulation 

Class Person:  

def __init__(self, name, age): = name  
self.age = age  
self.age = 1 
Alice = Person("Alice", 30) 
print(f"{} is now {alice.age} years old.") 

In this extended example, we introduce a class named Person to represent individuals. This class incorporates attributes for "name" and "age." The __init__ method initializes these attributes using the provided parameters. Moreover, we unveil a system named celebrate_birthday. When invoked, this method increments the "age" attribute of the instance by one, simulating a birthday celebration. 

Once more, we create an instance of the Person class, christening it as "alice" with an initial age of 30. By invoking the celebrate_birthday method on "alice," we modify the "age" attribute, resulting in the statement: "Alice is now 31 years old." 

These examples show the pivotal role played by the "self" parameter, serving as a reference to the instance. It facilitates the manipulation of instance-specific data within methods, embodying the essence of object-oriented programming. 

Why is the Self Method Defined Every Time? 

A common question that frequently arises is why the "self" method necessitates explicit definitions within every method of a class. To address this, we must delve into how Python manages method calls within classes and the Python call self function. 

In Python, when you call a method on an object, such as obj.method(), Python automatically endows the method with the instance as the first Python self argument. This seamless instance passing is where the "self" parameter becomes invaluable. 

Imagine a scenario where Python refrained from this automatic instance provision. In such a scenario, developers would be compelled to pass the instance explicitly every time they called a method. Not only would this be cumbersome, but it would also introduce opportunities for errors. 

By mandating the inclusion of the "self" parameter in method signatures, Python ensures a smooth, error-free process for accessing instance-specific data and methods. This practice is not a mere formality; it is an integral aspect of Python's object-oriented nature. 

Defining "self" in methods isn't a mere convention; it is a fundamental component of how Python's object-oriented programming paradigm thrives. 

Self Variable in Python with Example 

The "self" variable, closely related to the "self" parameter, often assumes a pivotal role within methods to access instance-specific attributes and methods. Let's delve even deeper with a practical example. 

Example: Harnessing the "Self" Variable 

Class Car:  
def __init__(self, make, model): 
self.make = make 
self.model = model 
return f"This vehicle is a {self.make} {self.model}." 
my_car = Car("Toyota", "Camry") 

In this illuminating example, we introduce a Car class meticulously designed to represent vehicles. The class boasts an __init__ method that graciously welcomes two parameters: "make" and "model." These parameters find their rightful place within the instance's self.make and self.model attributes, capturing vital information about the car, including its manufacturer and model. 

Moreover, the class features a descriptionmethod, which seamlessly harnesses the"self"variable to access the"make"and"model"attributes of the instance. The description method crafts a descriptive string, offering details about the car's make and model.  

To illustrate the practical application of this class, we create an instance of a Carnamed"my_car,"specifying that it is none other than a Toyota Camry. When we summon the escription method on"my_car," we are bestowed with the following output: "This vehicle is a Toyota Camry." 

The "self" variable assumes the role of a bridge, artfully connecting the instance to its attributes and methods. It simplifies the encapsulation of instance-specific data within the class and plays a pivotal role in crafting well-structured and modular code. 

Python Self vs This 

The concept of selfin Python may draw comparisons with the "this" keyword utilized in other programming languages such as Java or C . However, it's paramount to recognize that there exist substantial differences between the two. 

Self in Pythonkeyword is not rigid; it is a convention. Developers frequently designate "self" as the first parameter in method definitions, yet it does not hold the status of a reserved keyword in the language. You can select any variable name to represent the instance reference. Nevertheless, the adoption of "self" is encouraged, and it has emerged as a prevalent practice within the Python community due to its clarity and consistency. 

Conversely, "this" in languages like Java and C is a dedicated keyword. It explicitly alludes to the current instance of a class. In these languages, "this" serves an indispensable role in distinguishing between instance variables and method parameters that share identical names. Python, with its automatic bestowal of the instance reference, eradicates the necessity for a dedicated keyword like "this." The instance resides within methods without the demand for an explicit reference. 

In this section about "self"vs."this" in Python, we discovered that the two share a common goal in object-oriented programming, their implementation and utilization diverge significantly between Python and other programming languages. 

__init__() is not a Constructor

In Python, the `__init__` method is commonly referred to as a constructor, but it's important to understand that it's not a true constructor in the traditional sense found in some other programming languages like C++ or Java.

Here's what's happening:

1. Initialization Purpose: The `__init__` method is a special method in Python classes that is automatically called when a new instance of a class is created. It is used to initialize the object's attributes and perform any other necessary setup.

2. Object Initialization: While it's similar to a constructor in the sense that it initializes an object, it doesn't actually construct or allocate memory for the object. That's done by the `__new__` method, which is rarely used directly in Python and usually not needed.

3. Initialization vs Construction: In languages like C++ or Java, constructors are responsible for both memory allocation and initialization of objects. In Python, the allocation of memory is handled behind the scenes by the interpreter. The `__init__` method is purely for object initialization.

4. Separation of Concerns: This separation of concerns in Python is a design choice that allows for greater flexibility and simplicity. It makes it easier to subclass and customize the initialization behavior without having to deal with memory allocation.

5. Initialization Overloading: You can think of the `__init__` method as an initializer rather than a constructor. It allows you to customize the way an instance of a class is set up without worrying about low-level memory management.

6. Other Methods for Custom Initialization: If you need more control over object creation, you can use other methods like `__new__`, but this is relatively rare in standard Python programming and is usually reserved for advanced use cases.

In summary, while `__init__` is commonly referred to as a constructor, it's more accurate to think of it as an initializer. It's responsible for setting up the initial state of an object after memory has been allocated, rather than being responsible for the actual allocation of memory.


In Python, the term "self" is a convention used to represent the instance of a class. It allows you to access and manipulate attributes and methods specific to that instance. In instance methods (functions defined inside a class), the first parameter must always be `self`. This parameter is automatically passed when you call a method on an instance, allowing it to operate on its own attributes. Understanding "self" is crucial for effective object-oriented programming in Python. It enables the creation of classes with attributes and behaviors that can be tailored for each instance, providing a foundation for building complex and dynamic applications.


1. What is the purpose of "self" in Python?

"Self"in Python serves as a reference to the instance of the class. It bestows access to instance-specific attributes and methods, embodying the essence of object-oriented programming.

2. Is "self" a keyword in Python?

No, "self" is not a keyword; it functions as a convention. Employed as a parameter in method definitions, it refers to the instance.

3. What role does the __init__() method play in Python?

The __init__() method serves as an initializer in Python. It initializes attributes and carries out preparatory tasks when an object of a class is formed, although it does not create instances, a process automated by Python.

4. Why must "self" be explicitly defined in Python methods?

An explicit definition of "self" is necessary as Python doesn't automatically pass the instance as the initial parameter to methods. This practice provides developers with greater control.

5. How does "self" in Python compare to "this" in other languages?

"Self" in Python is conceptually similar to "this" in some other programming languages, representing the current instance of a class. However, Python's use of "self" enhances code clarity and readability.

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