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Start of main content# What is the difference between list.sort() and sorted() in Python?

### Differences and similarities

### When to use each one

## Recommended snippets

Isabelle Viktoria Maciohsek · Dec 31, 2020 ·

Python, List

Python provides two ways to sort a list, the built-in list method `list.sort()`

and the built-in function `sorted()`

. Although both will sort the elements of a list, if used incorrectly they can produce unexpected or undesired results.

The primary difference between the two is that `list.sort()`

will sort the list in-place, mutating its indexes and returning `None`

, whereas `sorted()`

will return a new sorted list leaving the original list unchanged. Another difference is that `sorted()`

accepts any iterable while `list.sort()`

is a method of the `list`

class and can only be used with lists.

```
nums = [2, 3, 1, 5, 6, 4, 0]
print(sorted(nums)) # [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
print(nums) # [2, 3, 1, 5, 6, 4, 0]
print(nums.sort()) # None
print(nums) # [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
```

Both `list.sort()`

and `sorted()`

have the same `key`

and `reverse`

optional arguments and can be called on each list element prior to making comparisons.

`list.sort()`

should be used whenever mutating the list is intended and retrieving the original order of the elements is not desired. On the other hand, `sorted()`

should be used when the object to be sorted is an iterable (e.g. list, tuple, dictionary, string) and the desired outcome is a sorted list containing all elements.

### difference_by

Python, List

Returns the difference between two lists, after applying the provided function to each list element of both.

### symmetric_difference_by

Python, List

Returns the symmetric difference between two lists, after applying the provided function to each list element of both.

### symmetric_difference

Python, List

Returns the symmetric difference between two iterables, without filtering out duplicate values.