How to Remove Columns From a Dataframe in Python

1. Introduction

In data analysis with Python, DataFrames are the most frequently used data structure due to their capacity to store data in a two-dimensional tabular form. However, manipulating these DataFrames is a vital part of any data analysis pipeline. Today, we will focus on how to remove columns from a DataFrame in Python using various methods.


2. What is a DataFrame?

A DataFrame is a two-dimensional size-mutable, potentially heterogeneous tabular data structure with labeled axes (rows and columns). You can think of it like a spreadsheet or SQL table, or a dictionary of Series objects.


3. The drop() Method

The most common method to remove a column from a DataFrame is the `drop()` method. The syntax is as follows:

DataFrame.drop(labels=None, axis=1, inplace=False)

In the drop method, ‘labels’ is the column you want to remove, ‘axis’ is set to 1 to indicate we are removing columns, and ‘inplace’ when set to True makes the change in the existing DataFrame.


4. Dropping a Single Column

To drop a single column, we specify the column name as a string:

df.drop('column_name', axis=1, inplace=True)


5. Dropping Multiple Columns

To drop multiple columns, we pass a list of column names:

df.drop(['column1', 'column2'], axis=1, inplace=True)


6. Using the del Keyword

Python’s `del` keyword can also be used to remove a column:

del df['column_name']


7. Using the pop() Method

The `pop()` method can also remove a column, but it returns the removed column:



8. Conclusion

Removing columns from a DataFrame is a common operation in data cleaning and preprocessing. The choice of method largely depends on whether you want to keep the removed column, alter the original DataFrame, or remove multiple columns at once.


9. FAQ

1. What happens when ‘inplace=True’ in the drop method?

When ‘inplace=True’, the drop operation makes changes directly to the original DataFrame. When ‘inplace=False’, which is the default, a new DataFrame with the dropped columns is returned, and the original DataFrame remains unchanged.

2. Can we undo a column drop in DataFrame?

No, once a column is dropped, it cannot be undone. If ‘inplace=True’ was used, the original DataFrame is changed and the dropped column cannot be retrieved.

3. Is there a limit to the number of columns that can be dropped at once?

No, there’s no limit. You can drop as many columns as you want at once by passing the column names as a list to the drop method.

4. What is the difference between the del keyword and the drop() method?

The del keyword removes a column from the DataFrame and does not return anything. The drop() method, on the other hand, can be used to drop columns without affecting the original DataFrame and can also return the resulting DataFrame.

5. Can we drop rows using these methods?

Yes, by setting ‘axis=0’ in the drop() method, you can drop rows. The del keyword and pop() method work with rows as well.