Lesson 02-09: If/Elif/Else Statements

Learning Target: I can use if/elif/else statements to execute code conditionally.

The elif Keyword

Any series of if statements are inefficient. Take the following for example (use Show Codelens to step through code):

This code is inefficient because each of these four if statements will be checked, regardless of which one is actually True! For example, if state is "New York", then there’s no reason to check the other if statements, because we know they are false!

This is where the elif statement comes into play. The elif statement is short for “else if”, and has similarities to both else and if. The syntax looks something like this:

if some_condition:
    #do stuff if some_condition is True
elif some_other_condition:
    #do stuff if some_other_condition is True
#the else is optional
    #do stuff if neither some_condition nor some_other_condition are True

A few things to note:

  • The elif is optional! Only use it if you need it.
  • Similar to else, each elif statement must directly follow an if statement.
  • Each elif statement must have a condition.
  • Tabbing rules and etiquette for elif statements are the same as if and else statements.

Additionally, you can have as many elif statements as you want! Walk through the following example and carefully note which if statements are “checked” (use Show Codelens to step through code):

Can now be rewritten as the following. Walk through the example again, but this time, watch which if statements are checked (use Show Codelens to step through code):

You may have noticed that the check for “Georgia” and “Texas” were skipped - and it makes sense that they were! The important thing here is that Given any single set of if-elif-else statements, only one block of code will execute.

Also note that an elif cannot come after an else, because else is used to capture all other possibilities. The ordering is always if-elif(s)-else.

Checks For Understanding


In the space below, write an if/elif/else statement that will check if a letter is a vowel or not. If letter is a vowel, print “Vowel!”, and if not, print “Not a vowel!” Note that there are other, simpler ways to do this. As a reminder, a, e, i, o, and u are vowels.

Next Section - Lesson 02-10: Ordering of Conditionals