Why is a double semicolon a SyntaxError in Python?

I know that semicolons are unnecessary in Python, but they can be used to cram multiple statements onto a single line, e.g.

    >>> x = 42; y = 54

I always thought that a semicolon was equivalent to a line break. So I was a bit surprised to learn (h/t Ned Batchelder on Twitter) that a double semicolon is a SyntaxError:

    >>> x = 42
    >>> x = 42;
    >>> x = 42;;
      File "<stdin>", line 1
        x = 42;;
    SyntaxError: invalid syntax

I assumed the last program was equivalent to x = 42\n\n. I’d have thought the statement between the semicolons was treated as an empty line, a no-op. Apparently not.

Why is this an error?

From the Python grammar, we can see that ; is not defined as \n. The parser expects another statement after a ;, except if there's a newline after it:

                         Semicolon w/ statement    Maybe a semicolon  Newline
                              \/     \/               \/                \/
    simple_stmt: small_stmt (';' small_stmt)*        [';']            NEWLINE

That's why x=42;; doesn't work; because there isn't a statement between the two semicolons, as "nothing" isn't a statement. If there was any complete statement between them, like a pass or even just a 0, the code would work.

    x = 42;0; # Fine
    x = 42;pass; # Fine
    x = 42;; # Syntax error

    if x == 42:; print("Yes") # Syntax error - "if x == 42:" isn't a complete statement

From: stackoverflow.com/q/36111915

Back to homepage or read more recommendations: