An object is an instance (or not)?

Ben Finney ben+python at
Tue Jan 27 23:32:09 CET 2015

Mario Figueiredo <marfig at> writes:

> People were saying to me that in Python object = instance. I'm trying
> to argue why I believe it isn't and asking for arguments to convince
> me otherwise.

In Python:

* Every value is an object.

* Every object is an instance of some class.

* To say “object” is uproblematic for values in Python, because the
  programming term “object” doesn't imply anything about classes.

* To say “instance” implies a specific relationship to some particular
  class; in programming terminology (because in English generally) an
  instance is so called only because it is an instance of some specific

> By referring to an instance of Sub as "Sub object", there's an
> implicit affirmation that an object is an instance.

Correct. That raises a fourth point:

* In the distant past of Python, some objects were not instances of any
  class; the terminology in the documentation and messages shows some
  confusing legacies from that ancient time.

The phrasing “'Foo' object” is ambiguous in a way that “'Foo' instance”
would not be. I agree with others that changing the message to refer to
“'Foo' instance” would be an improvement.

 \         “Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?” “I think so, |
  `\    Brain, but I find scratching just makes it worse.” —_Pinky and |
_o__)                                                       The Brain_ |
Ben Finney

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