C vs. Python: Full Comparison

programming language

C vs. Python: Full Comparison

Key Points

  • C is the general-purpose structural programming language.
  • Python is an interpreted object-oriented programming language.
  • Python is the most popularly used programming language worldwide.
  • C is most commonly used to write instructions for hardware.
  • C is compiled, while Python is interpreted.
  • Python is meant to be for general purposes.
  • Python has a much larger library of functions to access than C.

C and python are both types of programming language. C is a general purpose language which is is structure-based. It is widely used around the world and has been used to create the popular Windows application and the UNIX operating system. Python is object-oriented, rather than structure-based, but it was initially implemented in C. Therefore, it might be a bit strange to understand how they are actually completely different.

In this article we’ll explore both the similarities and the key differences between them. We’ll also discover the pros and cons of each and discover whether C or Python is better and for what applications.

What is C?

C is the general-purpose programming language. It is a structure-based language that is machine-independent. It has been used to create the world’s most popular applications such as the Windows operating system, Oracle database, Git, Python interpreter, and even other programming languages.

The language was originally associated with the UNIX operating system as most of the UNIX system is coded in C. It was even initially limited to the UNIX operating system. Of course, the simplicity and power of the language spread far and wide until it took over as “the most powerful language” or “god’s programming language”.

As such a widely used language and the basis for most programs and programming languages, learning C is considered to be an inexhaustible skill in programming.

What is Python?

Python is an interpreted general-purpose programming language that was created by Guido van Rossum at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica in the Netherlands. The main implementation of Python was written in C. However, Python is an object-oriented language rather than a structure-based one.

In 1999, van Rossum further defined his goals for Python. It needed to be easy and intuitive while remaining as powerful as major competitors. It had to be open-source to promote community involvement and development. It needed to be as easy to read as plain English and it needed to be suitable for everyday tasks.

In 2022, Python is exactly what Guido van Rossum wanted. It is the most popularly used programming language worldwide.

Switch Case Python
Python was developed by Guido van Rossum in 1991.


Both these languages can be used to create applications and have wide compatibility. They are both somewhat independent of the machine they are operated on. Most find it easier to explain the differences between the two rather than the similarities.

C vs. Python: Side-by-Side Comparison

Both programming languages are incredibly powerful. Python is currently the most popularly used programming language in the world. C is the language that makes the foundation of nearly everything else. However, there are differences in the performance and application of each language. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of each language and what’s different about them:

What it is:Programming LanguageProgramming Language
Primary use:structure-oriented general-purpose programming languageobject-oriented general-purpose programming language
Initial Release:1972/19731991
Technical Committee:Bell LaboratoriesCentrum Wiskunde & Informatica
Influential Developers:Dennis M. RitchieGuido van Rossum
Open format:YesYes
Technologies Influenced:software applications, operating systems, C+, C++, Python, Javasoftware applications, Boo, Cobra, CoffeeScript

C vs. Python: Key Differences

python number types
Python is known for its versatility, and one of its strengths is its support for a variety of data types.
  • Speed: Compiled programs execute much faster than interpreted programs making C faster to execute.
  • Usage: Python is easier to write as the syntax requirements are less stringent.
  • Variables: In C, variable types much be declared when it is created and only values of the same type can be assigned to them. Python does not require variable types to be declared.
  • Debugging: Debugging in Python is simple. As the code is interpreted all at once when it is interpreted, errors are shown instantly and the execution cancels on the instruction that caused the error. In C, errors are found after compilation which can make it more difficult.
  • Renaming Functions: Python allows for functions to be renamed and can be used by two different names.
  • Memory Management: Python uses an automatic system known as the garbage collector. With C, the programmer is left to fend for themselves.
  • Applications: C is more commonly used for hardware firmware and hardware-related applications. Python has become a widely used general-purpose language for programs and web apps.
  • Built-in Functions: Python has a much larger library of built-in functions.
  • Implementing Data Structures: Python has built-in functions to make implementing data structures much easier like insert and append.
  • Pointers: Pointers are only available in C.

The Pros and Cons of C

Efficient and widely usedComplicated syntax
Portability and compatibilityProgrammer manages code debugging
Used to build other languagesEasy to overwrite information and memory
User-defined functionsCode must be rewritten as C is not object-oriented
See hidden objectsRequires technical coding techniques
Embedded into nearly every software applicationHigh-level development can only be done with access to third-party libraries or manually creating them

The Pros and Cons of Python

Easy learning curveCode execution speed is slower
Fast development speedNo multithread support
Portability, compatibility, and extensibility to other languagesHeavy memory usage
Versatile applicationPoor compatibility with mobile development
Open-source and community-supported

C vs. Python: Which Is Better?

In the modern development scene, professional programmers will want to dip their toes into multiple languages. It doesn’t hurt to master more than one. However, it can make it easier to choose a starting language by thinking about the end applications. If you’re learning to code for hardware-related tasks, C is the best option. If you’ve just got a good idea for a computer program, Python is easier to get into.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Python and C?

Python and C are programming languages used to create computer applications. Both languages have wide compatibility. Both languages have a great performance track record. In terms of what kind of applications can be made with them, both languages have more similarities than differences. One of the main differences is that Python is easier to read and learn. Deciding when to use either language can be difficult. If you want a quicker speed getting from a newbie to making programs, Python is an easy choice. If you are trying to create more base-level applications or are working with operating system performance, C is the better option.

When were Python and C developed?

Dennis M. Ritchie began the development of C at Bell Labs between 1972 and 1973. Guido van Rossum began the development of Python at CWI in the late 1980s between 1988 and 1989.

Is Python better than C?

Better is a relative term, especially in programming. While using Python is considered to be much easier for professionals and beginners, C has access to low-level functionality. This gives it an edge when it comes to what it can do. However, most programmers will find that they don’t need firmware access. Deciding when to use C or when to use Python comes down to what type of applications are being created. Ultimately, though, if you’re learning to code for hardware-related tasks, C is the best option. If you’ve just got a good idea for a computer program, then Python is the better option.

Is C faster or Python?

C and Python use different methods to complete program creation. C is compiled, while Python is interpreted. Compilers scan code scripts for any error and even report which line the error was discovered on as the script is written. Interpreters check and read the entire script rather than line-by-line. The result is that C compilation finishes compiling with a faster speed than Python can be interpreted.

Why is C more difficult than Python?

C is difficult to learn because it combines the elements of high-level languages and low-level languages. The structure of the language is incredibly important and even a small syntax error can cause code to throw an error or become stuck in a loop. It is also chock full of commands and functions that can affect processes in the firmware up to the user interface. With so much to learn, the entry point for beginners is rather high. It can take much longer to master than other programming languages.

Which is more popular, C or Python?

While C is more powerful, Python is more popular. Python is easier for beginners and has a plethora of features that are in demand. As a better programming language for beginners, it has grown its user base as a primary language for developers.

Is Python written in C?

Python is written in C. The default implementation is even called CPython. However, CPython is not the only base for Python as other base implementations were written in Java or C# which admittedly are based in C as well.

Is C the most powerful language?

By far, C has held the position of the most powerful of the programming languages since its inception. This is in large because C is based on structure, and it is machine-independent. It is even used to create the core levels of other more modern languages like Java and C++.

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