TypeError: int Object is not Subscriptable in Python

int object is not subscriptable

A standard stumbling block is the dreaded TypeError: int object is not subscriptable. This perplexing error occurs when an attempt is made to use subscript notation on an integer (int) object, treating it as it were iterable, like a list or tuple. Python, a dynamically-typed and versatile programming language, empowers developers to craft elegant and efficient solutions across various domains. Nevertheless, with great power comes great responsibility, and sometimes, even seasoned Python programmers encounter unexpected roadblocks

In this comprehensive exploration, we will dissect the intricacies of this error, unravel the reasons behind its occurrence, dissect typical scenarios where it surfaces, and equip ourselves with a diverse range of practical strategies to rectify, mitigate, and prevent it from wreaking havoc in our Python codebase.

What Is the TypeError: ‘int’ Object Is Not Subscriptable Error?

Python developers attempt to index elements of non-subscriptable objects with square brackets, they have shunted with the type error: ‘int’ object is not subscriptable. It’s like using a crowbar as a spoon – the tool (or, in this case, the integer) isn’t intended for that purpose.
A snippet illustrates:

num = 42
print(num[0])  # This seemingly innocent line will trigger the TypeError

Why Does This Error Occur?

For a deeper understanding of this error, it’s pivotal to comprehend the bedrock concept of subscriptable objects in Python. Subscriptable objects, like lists, tuples, strings, and dictionaries, allow access to their elements through indexes or keys. In contrast, integers are non-subscriptable entities. They are fundamental building blocks of mathematics, representing whole numbers. However, they lack the essential internal structure required to support indexing, rendering attempts to index them futile and leading to the TypeError at hand.

How to Fix the TypeError: ‘int’ Object Is Not Subscriptable Error

  1. Methodical Code Review: The initial step towards rectification is meticulously reviewing your code. Scrutinize every line that employs square brackets for indexing and ascertain that you’re not mistakenly trying to index an integer. This error often stems from typos or misconceptions about data structure types.
  2. Data Type Verification: It’s imperative to verify that you are dealing with the anticipated data types. If you intended to work with a list or another subscriptable object, double-check that you haven’t inadvertently overwritten it with an integer or another non-subscriptable entity.
  3. Harness Debugging Tools: The debugging arsenal furnished by your Integrated Development Environment (IDE) or external debugging tools can prove invaluable. These tools offer a magnifying glass into the execution of your code, making it easier to identify the origin of the error.

Examples of the TypeError: ‘int’ Object Is Not Subscriptable Error

Mistaken Variable Usage:

Consider a scenario with a string variable name containing the value “Alice.” You also have an integer variable named index with a value of 2. If you attempt to access the character at the index specified by the index variable within the name string using square brackets, like this:

name = "Alice"
index = 2
print(name[index])  # This line is innocuous and prints 'i'

In this case, the code runs without issues and successfully prints the character ‘i’ from the name string. However, the seemingly harmless nature of this operation might lead you to believe that similar indexing can be performed on other data types, such as integers. This misconception can lead to the dreaded TypeError:

age = 25
print(age[0])  # But this line raises the TypeError

Here, attempting to access the first digit of the integer age using indexing triggers the `’int’ object is not subscribable error. It happens because integers are not subscriptable objects in Python; they lack the internal structure required to support indexing.

Tricky Loop Iterations:

The error might occur during loop iterations. Here’s an example:

for i in range(5):
    num = 10
    print(num[i])  # Surprisingly, it works for the first iteration, then raises TypeError

This code initializes an integer variable num with a value of 10 within a loop. During the first iteration, the code attempts to access the element at the index 0 of the num integer, and surprisingly, this operation doesn’t result in an error. However, attempting the same operation on subsequent iterations raises the `’int’ object is not subscribable error. This behaviour highlights the importance of understanding the limitations of data types and their subscript ability in different contexts.

The Snares of List Comprehensions:

List comprehensions offer a concise and elegant way to create lists in Python. However, they can also become a breeding ground for the TypeError we’re discussing. Here are some examples:

numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
squared = [num ** 2 for num in numbers]
index = 2
print(squared[index])  # Expectedly prints 9
result = 42
print(result[index])  # Unexpectedly triggers the TypeError

Hence, In this example, list comprehension is used to create a new list squared, where each element is the square of the corresponding element in the numbers list. Accessing an element from the squared list using indexing works as expected. However, attempting to do the same with the result integer triggers the ‘int’ object is not subscriptable error. This further underscores that not all objects in Python are subscriptable and that care must be taken when performing such operations.

How to Prevent the TypeError: ‘int’ Object Is Not Subscriptable Error

Semantic Variable Names:

To write maintainable and bug-free code, variable names you must carefully choose. In addition to enhancing the readability of your code, you reduce the likelihood of making errors related to data types when you name your variables accurately. For instance:

num_of_apples = 10  # Instead of using a variable named 'num'

By using semantic variable names, you signal to other programmers (including your future self) the nature of the data contained within the variable. This practice significantly reduces the chances of inadvertently treating an integer variable as a subscriptable object like a list.

Leverage Type Annotations:

With the introduction of type annotations in Python 3.5 and later versions, programmers gained a powerful tool for enhancing code readability and catching type-related errors during development. By explicitly annotating the variables and function parameter types, you provide clear hints to humans and tools about the expected data types. This proactive approach can help identify type mismatches before they manifest as runtime errors. For example:

def calculate_total(prices: List[float]) -> float:
    total = 0.0
    for price in prices:
        total += price
    return total

In this function, the type annotation List[float] indicates that the parameter prices is expected to be a list of floating-point numbers. Suppose a caller attempts to pass an integer list to this function. In that case, tools like static analyzers or linters can catch this discrepancy and warn you before execution.

Guard Your Code with Unit Tests:

Unit tests play a pivotal role in software development, enabling you to systematically verify that individual components of your code function as intended. You can gracefully ensure that your code handles different inputs by designing comprehensive test cases encompassing various data scenarios, including diverse data types. For the specific error we’re discussing, you can create tests to verify that subscribing operations are performed only on subscriptable objects. Here’s a simplified example using the unittest framework:

import unittest

class TestSubscriptErrors(unittest.TestCase):

    def test_subscriptable_objects(self):
        name = "Alice"
        index = 2
        self.assertEqual(name[index], 'i')  # No error expected

        numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
        squared = [num ** 2 for num in numbers]
        index = 2
        self.assertEqual(squared[index], 9)  # No error expected

        # Add more test cases for other subscriptable objects

    def test_non_subscriptable_objects(self):
        age = 25
        with self.assertRaises(TypeError):
            print(age[0])  # This should raise TypeError

        num = 10
        with self.assertRaises(TypeError):
            print(num[0])  # This should raise TypeError

        result = 42
        with self.assertRaises(TypeError):
            print(result[0])  # This should raise TypeError

        # Add more test cases for other non-subscriptable objects

if __name__ == '__main__':

By incorporating extensive unit tests into your development workflow, you can catch potential issues related to subscripting in your codebase.

Diving Deeper: The Evolution of Python’s Error Messages

Observing how Python’s error messages have evolved over different language versions is fascinating. In the context of the ‘int’ object is not subscriptable error, this evolution reflects the growing emphasis on providing developers with clear, informative, and actionable error feedback.

In earlier versions of Python, such as Python 2. x, attempting to index an integer would result in a more generic error message like “TypeError: unsubscriptable object.” While this message indicated that the error was related to subscriptability, it didn’t explicitly specify that the object in question was an integer. It could lead to confusion, especially when dealing with complex codebases.

However, the error messages became more specific and helpful as Python evolved. In Python 3. x, introducing the error message “TypeError: ‘int’ object is not subscribable” marked a significant improvement. This error message clarifies that the issue lies with an integer object and explicitly mentions the problem of subscriptability. This change reflects the Python community’s commitment to improving.

The developer experience and aiding in quickly identifying issues.

Data TypeSubscriptable?Example UsagePossible Error
Integer (int)Nonum = 42; print(num[0])TypeError
Float (float)NoN/AN/A
String (str)Yesname = “Alice”; print(name[2])N/A
List (list)Yesnumbers = [1, 2, 3]; print(numbers[1])N/A
Tuple (tuple)Yespoint = (3, 4); print(point[1])N/A
Dictionary (dict)Yesperson = {‘name’: ‘Alice’}; print(person[‘name’])N/A
Set (set)NoN/AN/A
Python’s Error Messages

This table provides a concise overview of various data types in Python and whether they are subscriptable. It also includes an example usage for each data type where applicable, showcasing the correct use of subscript notation or the potential error that might occur if subscripting is attempted on a non-subscriptable data type. Including this table in your blog can enhance its informational value by offering a quick reference guide for developers encountering subscriptability-related issues in their code.


The journey of a Python programmer is one of continuous learning, exploration, and occasional pitfalls. The ‘int’ object is not subscriptable error is a testament to the dynamic and flexible nature of the Python language. It reminds us that programming is an art that requires attention to detail and a solid understanding of fundamental concepts.

However Identifying the root cause of this error, adopting strategies to reduce its impact, and proactively preventing it will strengthen your coding skills. Remember the importance of semantic variable names, type annotations’ utility, and unit testing’s power. Armed with this knowledge, well-equipped to tackle this specific error and navigate various coding challenges that may come your way.

In Python’s ever-evolving landscape, embrace challenges, celebrate triumphs, and continue to enhance your skills. Happy coding!

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