Python TypeError: < not supported between instances of str and int

# Python TypeError: < not supported between instances of str and int

### Introduction

In this article, we'll be taking a look at a common Python 3 error: TypeError: '<' not supported between instances of 'str' and 'int'. This error occurs when an attempt is made to compare a string and an integer using the less than (<) operator. We will discuss the reasons behind this error and provide solutions for fixing it. Additionally, we will also cover how to resolve this error when dealing with lists, floats, and tuples.

### Why You Get This Error

In most languages, you probably know that the less than (<) operator is used for comparison between two values. However, it is important to note that the two values being compared must be of the same type or be implicitly convertible to a common type. For example, two implicitly convertable types would be an integer and a float since they're both numbers. But in this specific case, we're trying to compare a string and an integer, which are not implicitly convertable.

When you try to compare a string and an integer using one of the comparison operators, Python raises a TypeError because it cannot convert one of the values to a common type.

For instance, consider the following code:

num = 42
text = "hello"
if num < text:
print("The number is smaller than the text.")   # confused.jpg


In this example, the comparison between num (an integer) and text (a string) using the less than operator will raise the error:

TypeError: '<' not supported between instances of 'str' and 'int'


### How to Fix this Error

To fix this error, you need to ensure that both values being compared are of the same type or can be implicitly converted to a common type. In most cases, this means converting the integer to a string or vice versa.

Using a similar example as above, here's how you can resolve the error:

1. Convert the integer to a string:
num = 42
text = "46"
if str(num) < text:
print("The number is smaller than the text.")

1. Convert the string to an integer:
num = 42
text = "46"

# Assuming 'text' represents a numeric value
numeric_text = int(text)
if num < numeric_text:
print("The number is smaller than the text.")


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This example works because the string does represent an integer. If, however, we were to try this fix on the example at the beginning of this article, it wouldn't work and Python would raise another error since the given text is not convertable to an integer. So while this fix works in some use-cases, it is not universal.

### Fixing this Error with Lists

When working with lists, the error may occur when trying to compare an integer (or other primitive types) to a list.

my_list = ["1", "2", "3"]

if my_list > 3:
print("Greater than 3!")

TypeError: '>' not supported between instances of 'list' and 'int'


In this case, the fix really depends on your use-case. When you run into this error, the common problem is that you meant to compare the variable to a single element in the list, not the entire list itself. Therefore, in this case you will want to access a single element in the list to make the comparison. Again, you'll need to make sure the elements are of the same type.

my_list = ["1", "2", "3"]

if int(my_list[1]) > 3:
print("Greater than 3!")

Greater than 3!


### Fixing this Error with Floats

When comparing floats and strings, the same error will arise as it's very similar to our first example in this article. To fix this error, you need to convert the float or the string to a common type, just like with integers:

num = 3.14
text = "3.15"

if float(text) < num:
print("The text as a float is smaller than the number.")


### Fixing this Error with Tuples

When working with tuples, just like lists, if you try to compare the entire tuple to a primitive value, you'll run into the TypeError. And just like before, you'll likely want to do the comparison on just a single value of the tuple.

Another possibility is that you'll want to compare all of the elements of the tuple to a single value, which we've shown below using the built-in all() function:

str_tuple = ("1.2", "3.2", "4.4")
my_float = 6.8

if all(tuple(float(el) < my_float for el in str_tuple)):
print("All are lower!")


In this example, we iterate through all elements in the touple, convert them to floats, and then make the comparison. The resulting tuple is then checked for all True values using all(). This way we're able to make an element-by-element comparison.

### Conclusion

In this article, we discussed the TypeError: '<' not supported between instances of 'str' and 'int' error in Python, which can occur when you try to compare a string and an integer using comparison operators. We provided solutions for fixing this error by converting the values to a common type and also covered how to resolve this error when working with lists, floats, and tuples.

By understanding the root cause of this error and applying the appropriate type conversion techniques, you can prevent this error from occurring and ensure your comparisons work as intended.

Last Updated: March 14th, 2023
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