How to Clone or Copy a List in Python

1. Introduction

When working with lists in Python, sometimes it's necessary to create a copy of a list so that you can modify the copy without affecting the original list. This process is known as cloning or copying a list. It's a common operation, especially when dealing with mutable objects like lists, where changes to one instance of a list could inadvertently alter another if not properly copied.


Cloning or copying a list means creating a new list that has the same elements as the original list but is a separate object in memory. Changes made to the copied list do not affect the original list, and vice versa.

2. Program Steps

1. Create the original list that you want to clone.

2. Clone the list using one of the methods: slicing, the list() constructor, the copy() method, or the copy module for deep copies.

3. Modify the cloned list to demonstrate that it is indeed a separate object.

3. Code Program

# Step 1: Create the original list
original_list = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

# Step 2: Clone the list using slicing
cloned_list = original_list[:]  # Creates a shallow copy of the list

# Another way to clone the list using the list() constructor
# cloned_list = list(original_list)

# And another way using the copy() method
# cloned_list = original_list.copy()

# If the list contains objects and you need a deep copy, use the copy module
# import copy
# cloned_list = copy.deepcopy(original_list)

# Step 3: Modify the cloned list
cloned_list.append(6)  # Append a new element to the cloned list

# Display both lists
print("Original List:", original_list)
print("Cloned List:", cloned_list)


Original List: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
Cloned List: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]


1. original_list is defined with the elements [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

2. cloned_list is created by slicing the entire original_list which makes a shallow copy.

3. As an alternative, list(original_list), original_list.copy(), and copy.deepcopy(original_list) can also be used to clone the list (commented out).

4. The cloned list is then modified by appending the element 6, showing that it is independent of original_list.

5. The print statements display the contents of both the original_list and the cloned_list, confirming that the original list remains unchanged.

6. The output demonstrates that a new list has been created with the same elements as the original, and additional modifications do not affect the original list.