Silly questions about True and False

Steven Bethard steven.bethard at
Mon Dec 20 20:04:11 CET 2004

drs wrote:
> I just upgraded my Python install, and for the first time have True and
> False rather than 1 and 0.  I was playing around at the command line to test
> how they work (for instance, "if 9:" and "if True:" both lead to the
> conditional being executed, but True == 9 -> False, that this would be true
> was not obvious to me

Note that evaluating to True isn't the same as being equal to True. 
Would you also expect that [] == None?  Both evaluate to False in a 
boolean context.  Or an even better example, would you expect that 
[1] == [2]?  Both of these evaluate to True in a boolean context...

What you should expect is that:

py> bool([]) == bool(None) == False
py> bool([1]) == bool([2]) == True

> "True is True" is True, while "9 is True" is false
> even though 9 evaluates to True.)

Be careful here.  'is' tests object identity.  So "9 is True" would only 
evaluate to True if 9 is exactly the same object as True.  'is' won't 
convert anything to a boolean; "x is y" basically translates to 
"id(x) == id(y)".

> why doesn't False = 0 throw the same error?

Backwards compatibility.  A lot of modules pre-False and True have code 
that looks like:

True, False = 1, 0


True, False = (1 == 1), (1 == 0)

If assignment to True or False became a syntax error (which it probably 
should be), it would break all such code.

>  Also, why doesn't False = 0 make
>>>>1 == 2
> 0
> Instead of False?

You've only rebound the name False in your module's namespace.  1 == 2 
executes the int code for equality, which presumably returns one of 
Py_False or Py_True, not your binding for the name False in your module.


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