What does “SyntaxError: Missing parentheses in call to ‘print'” mean in Python?

The Question :

404 people think this question is useful

When I try to use a print statement in Python, it gives me this error:

>>> print "Hello, World!"
  File "<stdin>", line 1
    print "Hello, World!"
SyntaxError: Missing parentheses in call to 'print'

What does that mean?

The Question Comments :

The Answer 1

613 people think this answer is useful

This error message means that you are attempting to use Python 3 to follow an example or run a program that uses the Python 2 print statement:

print "Hello, World!"

The statement above does not work in Python 3. In Python 3 you need to add parentheses around the value to be printed:

print("Hello, World!")

“SyntaxError: Missing parentheses in call to ‘print’” is a new error message that was added in Python 3.4.2 primarily to help users that are trying to follow a Python 2 tutorial while running Python 3.

In Python 3, printing values changed from being a distinct statement to being an ordinary function call, so it now needs parentheses:

>>> print("Hello, World!")
Hello, World!

In earlier versions of Python 3, the interpreter just reports a generic syntax error, without providing any useful hints as to what might be going wrong:

>>> print "Hello, World!"
  File "<stdin>", line 1
    print "Hello, World!"
SyntaxError: invalid syntax

As for why print became an ordinary function in Python 3, that didn’t relate to the basic form of the statement, but rather to how you did more complicated things like printing multiple items to stderr with a trailing space rather than ending the line.

In Python 2:

>>> import sys
>>> print >> sys.stderr, 1, 2, 3,; print >> sys.stderr, 4, 5, 6
1 2 3 4 5 6

In Python 3:

>>> import sys
>>> print(1, 2, 3, file=sys.stderr, end=" "); print(4, 5, 6, file=sys.stderr)
1 2 3 4 5 6

Starting with the Python 3.6.3 release in September 2017, some error messages related to the Python 2.x print syntax have been updated to recommend their Python 3.x counterparts:

>>> print "Hello!"
  File "<stdin>", line 1
    print "Hello!"
SyntaxError: Missing parentheses in call to 'print'. Did you mean print("Hello!")?

Since the “Missing parentheses in call to print” case is a compile time syntax error and hence has access to the raw source code, it’s able to include the full text on the rest of the line in the suggested replacement. However, it doesn’t currently try to work out the appropriate quotes to place around that expression (that’s not impossible, just sufficiently complicated that it hasn’t been done).

The TypeError raised for the right shift operator has also been customised:

>>> print >> sys.stderr
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
TypeError: unsupported operand type(s) for >>: 'builtin_function_or_method' and '_io.TextIOWrapper'. Did you mean "print(<message>, file=<output_stream>)"?

Since this error is raised when the code runs, rather than when it is compiled, it doesn’t have access to the raw source code, and hence uses meta-variables (<message> and <output_stream>) in the suggested replacement expression instead of whatever the user actually typed. Unlike the syntax error case, it’s straightforward to place quotes around the Python expression in the custom right shift error message.

The Answer 2

26 people think this answer is useful

Unfortunately, the old xkcd comic isn’t completely up to date anymore.


Since Python 3.0 you have to write:

print("Hello, World!")

And someone has still to write that antigravity library 🙁

The Answer 3

21 people think this answer is useful

There is a change in syntax from Python 2 to Python 3. In Python 2,

print "Hello, World!" 

will work but in Python 3, use parentheses as

print("Hello, World!")

This is equivalent syntax to Scala and near to Java.

The Answer 4

6 people think this answer is useful

Basically, since Python 3.x you need to use print with parenthesis.

Python 2.x: print “Lord of the Rings”

Python 3.x: print(“Lord of the Rings”)


print was a statement in 2.x, but it’s a function in 3.x. Now, there are a number of good reasons for this.

  1. With function format of Python 3.x, more flexibility comes when printing multiple items with comman separated.
  2. You can’t use argument splatting with a statement. In 3.x if you have a list of items that you want to print with a separator, you can do this:
>>> items = ['foo', 'bar', 'baz']
>>> print(*items, sep='+') 

  1. You can’t override a statement. If you want to change the behavior of print, you can do that when it’s a function but not when it’s a statement.

The Answer 5

5 people think this answer is useful

If your code should work in both Python 2 and 3, you can achieve this by loading this at the beginning of your program:

from __future__ import print_function   # If code has to work in Python 2 and 3!

Then you can print in the Python 3 way:


If you want to print something without creating a new line – you can do this:

for number in range(0, 10):
    print(number, end=', ')

The Answer 6

3 people think this answer is useful

In Python 3, you can only print as:


But in Python 2, the parentheses are not necessary.

The Answer 7

3 people think this answer is useful

I could also just add that I knew everything about the syntax change between Python2.7 and Python3, and my code was correctly written as print("string") and even print(f"string")

But after some time of debugging I realized that my bash script was calling python like:

python file_name.py

which had the effect of calling my python script by default using python2.7 which gave the error. So I changed my bash script to:

python3 file_name.py

which of coarse uses python3 to run the script which fixed the error.

The Answer 8

1 people think this answer is useful

Outside of the direct answers here, one should note the other key difference between python 2 and 3. The official python wiki goes into almost all of the major differences and focuses on when you should use either of the versions. This blog post also does a fine job of explaining the current python universe and the somehow unsolved puzzle of moving to python 3.

As far as I can tell, you are beginning to learn the python language. You should consider the aforementioned articles before you continue down the python 3 route. Not only will you have to change some of your syntax, you will also need to think about which packages will be available to you (an advantage of python 2) and potential optimizations that could be made in your code (an advantage of python 3).

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