Complete Guide to the datetime Module in Python

Shweta Goyal

Learn the basics of the datetime module in Python and how to convert from strings to datetime.

To work with date and time, you can import a module named datetime which comes built-in with Python. The date and time do not have a data type on their own in Python instead Python provides classes to work with date and time.

There are six types of classes in the datetime module that helps to work with the date and time objects:

date class

date class assumes the Georgian calendar. Its attributes are year, month, and day. Let's see an example of how to represent a date with a date object.

import datetime # date object to represent the date dt = datetime.date(2022, 2, 24) print(dt)

Output:

2022-02-24

Here, date() is the constructor of the date class with three arguments - year, month, and day. dt is the object from the date class. Let's take another example to get the current date, year, month, and day.

from datetime import date # date object of today's date today = date.today() # Get current date print("Current date:", today) # Get day, month, and year of the week print("Current year:", today.year) print("Current month:", today.month) print("Current day:", today.day)

The outputs are:

Current date: 2022-02-24 Current year: 2022 Current month: 2 Current day: 24

There are other constructors from the date class that you can use like weekday, strftime, replace, fromtimestamp, etc. You can get those methods from their official site.

time class

time class gives time-related functions where you don’t need dates and assumes every day has 24*60*60 seconds. Its attributes are second, minute, hour, microsecond, etc.

Let's take an example of how to represent a time with a time object. Time object represents a local time of the day.

from datetime import time # without arguments t1 = time() print("t1:", t1) # with arguments - time(hour, minute, second) t2 = time(12, 11, 9) print("t2:", t2)

The outputs are:

t1: 00:00:00 t2: 12:11:09

Here, t1 and t2 are the objects from the time class and time() is the constructor from the time class. Let’s take another example to access the attributes like an hour, minute, second, and microsecond.

from datetime import time t = time(6, 11, 12, 999) print("Hour:", t.hour) print("Minute:", t.minute) print("Second:", t.second) print("Microsecond:", t.microsecond)

The outputs are:

Hour: 6 Minute: 11 Second: 12 Microsecond: 999

By default, the microsecond value is 0. There are other constructors from the time class that you can use like strftime, replace, min, max, etc. You can get those methods from their official site.

datetime class

datetime class is a combination of date and time which contains all the information of date and time objects. Its attributes are year, month, day, hour, minute, second, microsecond, etc. Let’s take an example:

from datetime import datetime # without time arguments dt1 = datetime(2022, 2, 24) print("dt1:", dt1) # with time arguments dt2 = datetime(2022, 2, 24, 11, 10, 36, 1214) print("dt2:", dt2)

The outputs are:

dt1: 2022-02-24 00:00:00 dt2: 2022-02-24 11:10:36.001214

The first three arguments i.e. arguments of date object are mandatory and the default value of the time object is 0. Let’s take another example to access the attributes of date and time objects:

from datetime import datetime # Accessing today's datetime today = datetime.now() # Accessing the attributes print("Today's Day:", today.day) print("Today's Month:", today.month) print("Today's Year:", today.year) print("Today's Hour:", today.hour) print("Today's Minute:", today.minute) print("Today's Second:", today.second)

The outputs are:

Today's Day: 24 Today's Month: 2 Today's Year: 2022 Today's Hour: 3 Today's Minute: 53 Today's Second: 30

There are other constructors from the time class that you can use like utc, combine, utcnow, etc. You can get those methods from their official site.

timedelta class

timedelta class is used to calculate the differences between the two dates and times and measured in durations. The result can be either positive or negative. Its attributes are days, seconds, microseconds, milliseconds, minutes, hours, weeks.

Let’s see an example:

from datetime import datetime, timedelta # Creating datetime objects date1 = datetime(2021, 6, 24) date2 = datetime(2020, 4, 20) # Difference between date objects diff = date2 - date1 print("Difference between dates:", diff) # Subtracting days from date1 date1 -= timedelta(days=13) print("Date1 before 13 days:", date1) # Adding weeks to date2 date2 += timedelta(weeks=12) print("Date2 after 12 weeks:", date2)

The outputs are:

Difference between dates: -430 days, 0:00:00 Date1 before 13 days: 2021-06-11 00:00:00 Date2 after more weeks: 2020-07-13 00:00:00

Here, the default value of the time objects is 0. There are other constructors from the timedelta class that you can use like total_seconds, min, max, etc. You can get those methods from their official site.

tzinfo class

tzinfo class is an abstract base class which means you can not instantiate it directly. It gives timezone information objects. It is used by datetime and time class to give more control over timezones.

There are various methods available that you can use like utcoffset, dst, fromutc, etc. You can learn more about it from their official site.

timezone class

timezone class implements the tzinfo abstract base class (i.e. it is a subclass of tzinfo)and is defined by the fixed offset from the UTC. This helps to represent timezone according to a specific region and to handle the timezones:

from datetime import timezone, timedelta tz = timezone(offset=timedelta(hours=3)) print(tz)

Output

UTC+03:00

It is also worth mentioning, that for some more timezone calculations sometimes the third-party package pytz module can be useful.

pytz brings the Olson tz database into Python. This library allows accurate and cross platform timezone calculations using Python 2.4 or higher. It also solves the issue of ambiguous times at the end of daylight saving time.

Converting date objects to string with strftime()

Converting from date objects to strings can be achieved with strftime():

from datetime import datetime now = datetime.now() now_str = now.strftime("%Y-%m-%d, %H:%M:%S") print(now_str)

Output:

2022-03-06, 10:21:33

For a full list of all formatting rules see the official site.

Converting strings to datetime with strptime()

To convert a string to a datetime object, we can use strptime():

from datetime import datetime date_string = "2022/03/06 10:21:33" date_object = datetime.strptime(date_string, "%Y/%m/%d %H:%M:%S") print(date_object) # This is of <class 'datetime.datetime'>

Output

2022-03-06 10:21:33

Note that if the given format and the string do not match, this would raise a ValueError, e.g.:

ValueError: time data '2022-03-06, 10:21:33' does not match format '%Y/%m/%d %H:%M:%S'

Conclusion

In this article, you have learned about the six different classes in the datetime module and how you can convert strings to datetime objects and vice versa.

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