Keyword Arguments

Understanding Keyword Arguments in Python

Python is a high-level, dynamic programming language that is generally known for its simplicity and ease of use. It features an array of powerful tools and functionalities, including keyword arguments, which we will focus on in this article.

What are Keyword Arguments in Python?

In Python, a keyword argument is an argument that is passed to a function or a method using a keyword rather than just its positional index. It helps to make code more readable, easier to understand and less prone to errors than the traditional positional arguments.

Keyword arguments are defined using the following syntax:

def function(arg1, arg2, argx=default_value):

The code above shows a function that requires two positional arguments (arg1 and arg2), and one keyword argument (argx). The keyword argument has a default value which is used if the function is called without this keyword argument.

Benefits of Keyword Arguments

Keyword arguments offer several benefits to programmers who are working with Python. These include:

1. Readability – Keyword arguments help to make code more readable by allowing the arguments to be passed to a function in a way that more clearly indicates their intended use.

2. Flexibility – The use of keyword arguments provides greater flexibility to functions and methods by allowing users to choose which arguments they want to pass and in what order.

3. Debugging – They make debugging easier by allowing developers to isolate and fix specific issues with a function or method more quickly.

Examples of Keyword Arguments

Here’s an example of how to use keyword arguments in Python:

def sentence(name, action, target):
    print(f"{name} {action} {target}.")
# Using keyword arguments
sentence(name='John', target='the ball', action='kicks')

# Output: John kicks the ball.

In the example above, the function `sentence()` takes three arguments – `name`, `action`, and `target`. By using keyword arguments to call the function, we can pass the arguments in any order and clearly specify their intended use.

Default Values

By default, Python functions allow you to set default values for certain arguments. This is useful when some arguments can be optional or when you want to assign a default value in case an argument isn’t passed to a function.

def add_numbers(x, y=0):
    return x + y

print(add_numbers(2)) # Output: 2
print(add_numbers(2, 3)) # Output: 5

In the example above, the function `add_numbers()` takes two arguments – `x` and `y`. `y` has a default value of `0`. If `y` is not passed to the function, it automatically defaults to `0`.

Unpacking Dictionaries

In Python, dictionaries are a type of unordered data structure that store key-value pairs. Keyword arguments can be easily unpacked from a dictionary using the `**` operator.

def student_details(name, age, major):
	print(f"{name} is {age} years old and is majoring in {major}.")

details = {'name': 'John', 'age': 21, 'major': 'Computer Science'}

# Output: John is 21 years old and is majoring in Computer Science.

Here, we defined a function `student_details()` that takes three keyword arguments – `name`, `age`, and `major`. We then created a dictionary called `details` that has these three keys, and their corresponding values. Using double asterisks to unpack the dictionary, the keyword arguments are passed to the function.


Keyword arguments are a useful feature of Python that help to create more readable, flexible and debuggable code. They enable developers to use more natural language terminology when defining function parameters, organize their code more efficiently, and avoid confusion when calling functions. By incorporating keyword arguments into your code structure when appropriate, you’ll be able to streamline your coding practices and take full advantage of the Python language’s many capabilities.

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