What's the effect of `pass` in Python debug mode

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I just found this phenomenon by coincidence.

mylist = [('1',), ('2',), ('3',), ('4',)]
for l in mylist:
    pass    # first pass
pass        # second pass

If I set the red stop point at the first pass and debug, the program will stop here and the output is:


However, if I set the red stop point at the second pass and debug, the output include the end in the last line. It seems like the pass avoid stopping at this point and just let the program run further.

I thought pass should have no real meaning, but it seems not. So how can understand the pass?

Thank you all

pass is just syntactic sugar for the parser to know that a statement is intentionally left empty. It does not generate an opcode, and thus, the debugger can't pause when it gets hit. Instead you're seeing it halt when the next instruction is executed.

You can see this by printing the opcodes generated by an empty function:

>>> def test():
...   pass
>>> import dis
>>> dis.dis(test)
  2           0 LOAD_CONST               0 (None)
              3 RETURN_VALUE

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pass doesn't do anything. It compiles to no bytecode. However, the bytecode to jump back to the start of the loop is associated with the line of the last statement in the loop, and pass counts. Here's what it looks like if we decompile it, on Python 3.7.3:

import dis
dis.dis(r'''mylist = [('1',), ('2',), ('3',), ('4',)]
for l in mylist:
    pass    # first pass
pass        # second pass


  1           0 LOAD_CONST               0 (('1',))
              2 LOAD_CONST               1 (('2',))
              4 LOAD_CONST               2 (('3',))
              6 LOAD_CONST               3 (('4',))
              8 BUILD_LIST               4
             10 STORE_NAME               0 (mylist)

  2          12 SETUP_LOOP              20 (to 34)
             14 LOAD_NAME                0 (mylist)
             16 GET_ITER
        >>   18 FOR_ITER                12 (to 32)
             20 STORE_NAME               1 (l)

  3          22 LOAD_NAME                2 (print)
             24 LOAD_NAME                1 (l)
             26 CALL_FUNCTION            1
             28 POP_TOP

  4          30 JUMP_ABSOLUTE           18
        >>   32 POP_BLOCK

  6     >>   34 LOAD_NAME                2 (print)
             36 LOAD_CONST               4 ('end')
             38 CALL_FUNCTION            1
             40 POP_TOP
             42 LOAD_CONST               5 (None)
             44 RETURN_VALUE

The JUMP_ABSOLUTE and POP_BLOCK get associated with line 4, the first pass.

When you set a breakpoint on the first pass, Python breaks before the JUMP_ABSOLUTE. When you set a breakpoint on the second pass, no bytecode is associated with line 5, so Python breaks on line 6, which does have bytecode.

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pass is just a null operator, if your looking to exit the for loop, you need to use break. The reason you see the end of the output from mylist at the second pass is that the first pass just continues the for loop.

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  • Did you mean breakpoint by "red stop point"?