You might already know that machines or computers always operate in machine language, meaning that regardless of the language we use, it must be translated into a form comprehensible to the computer; this task is performed by an interpreter or a compiler.

An interpreter converts a program into machine-readable code line by line. When a program is executed, it communicates with the operating system through the interpreter and displays the output.

How does the Python interpreter work?

From the following discussion, you will understand how the Python interpreter operates.

Source Code Analysis

Indeed, any translator begins by analyzing the source code. Here, the Python interpreter takes the source code and starts giving instructions to do the following:

The interpreter mainly follows indentation rules and checks the Python syntax.

If an error is found, the program stops and begins to display the error message. This stage is called lexical analysis, which means dividing the source code files into tokens.

Bytecode Generation

Once the Python interpreter’s parser starts accepting the tokens, it begins manipulating the lexical tokens. It creates a structure called an abstract syntax tree (AST).

The interpreter then converts this AST into bytecode. In Python, the bytecode is saved in a file with the “.pyc” extension.

Python Virtual Machine (PVM)

Afterwards, the Python interpreter or Python Virtual Machine (PVM) starts running the code. The interpreter loads the code through library modules and inputs it into the PVM. It converts the bytecode into executable code, and then the code begins to print.

Difference between Compiler and Interpreter

Many of us know that both a compiler and an interpreter help to run any code. However, there are some differences between them, which we will learn from the discussion below.


  • It translates the entire source code at once.
  • Running through a compiler is faster.
  • Outputs are created in .exe format.
  • It uses more CPU.
  • Used in a production environment.
  • C, C++, and C# are mainly compiled languages.
  • Takes more time to analyze the code structure.


  • It executes the program line by line.
  • Running through an interpreter is slower.
  • Does not create outputs in any specific format.
  • Uses less CPU.
  • Used in programming and development environments.
  • Python, Ruby, and PHP are mainly interpreted languages.
  • Takes less time to analyze the code structure.

I hope you have been able to learn and understand all the information about the Python interpreter, including the differences between compilers and interpreters.

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