Understanding Python Import Statements: from ... import ... vs import ...

When diving into the world of Python, one of the first concepts you'll encounter is how to bring external functionalities into your code. This is done through the use of import statements. However, newcomers often find themselves puzzled by the different ways Python allows you to import modules and their components. Specifically, the from ... import ... and import ... statements might seem similar at first glance, but they serve different purposes and have different implications for your code. Let's break down these differences with clarity and simplicity.

The import ... Statement

The import ... statement is the most straightforward way to bring an entire module into your current namespace. When you use this form of import, you're basically saying, "I want to access functions, classes, and variables defined in this module."

Here's a simple example:

import math

result = math.sqrt(16)

In this example, we import the entire math module. To use the sqrt function, we need to prefix it with math., indicating that this function is part of the math module. This approach keeps your code organized and clear about where each function comes from, which is especially useful in large projects with many imports.

The from ... import ... Statement

On the other hand, the from ... import ... statement allows you to import specific attributes or functions from a module directly into your current namespace. This means you can use them without the module name prefix.

For example:

from math import sqrt

result = sqrt(16)

Here, we directly import the sqrt function from the math module. This allows us to use sqrt without the math. prefix. This form of importing can make your code cleaner and more readable, especially if you only need a few specific items from a module.

Which One to Use?

Choosing between import ... and from ... import ... depends on your specific needs and the context of your project. Here are a few considerations:

  • Namespace Pollution: Using from ... import ... excessively can lead to namespace pollution, making it harder to determine where a specific function or attribute came from. In contrast, import ... keeps your namespace clean and your code more maintainable.
  • Readability: If you're only using one or two functions from a large module, from ... import ... can make your code more readable by avoiding the module name prefix.
  • Performance: There's a common misconception that from ... import ... is faster than import .... In reality, there's no significant performance difference between the two, as Python imports the entire module in both cases. The difference lies in the scope of what is made available in your namespace.


Both import ... and from ... import ... have their place in Python programming. The choice between them should be guided by considerations of code readability, maintainability, and the specific requirements of your project. As you grow more comfortable with Python, you'll find yourself naturally gravitating towards the method that best suits your coding style and project needs. Remember, the goal is to write clear, efficient, and readable code, and understanding the nuances of import statements is a step in that direction.