Python AttributeError: can't set attribute

Python is a versatile and powerful programming language, but it's not immune to errors. One common error that programmers encounter is the "AttributeError: can't set attribute" message. This error occurs when you try to set an attribute value on an object that doesn't have that attribute defined or has it defined as read-only. In this article, we will explore the causes of this error and how to handle it effectively.

Understanding the AttributeError

The AttributeError is a built-in exception in Python that occurs when an attribute reference or assignment fails. When you see the "can't set attribute" part of the error message, it means that Python is trying to set the value of an attribute, but the attribute is either not present in the object or is read-only (immutable).

Causes of "can't set attribute" Error

There are several reasons why you might encounter this error in your Python code:

  • Missing Attribute: If you try to set an attribute that doesn't exist in the object, Python will raise an AttributeError.
  • Read-only Attribute: Some objects in Python have read-only attributes, which means you cannot modify their values directly.
  • Protected Attribute: If an attribute is marked as protected using a single underscore (e.g., "_attribute"), you cannot set its value from outside the class definition.
  • Using Properties: If you are using property decorators to handle attribute access and modification, you may encounter this error if the property doesn't have a setter method.

Handling the AttributeError

To handle the "AttributeError: can't set attribute" error, you can take the following steps:

  • Check Attribute Existence: Before setting an attribute, ensure that the attribute exists in the object. You can use the hasattr() function to check if the attribute is present.
  • Use Properties: If you need to enforce specific behavior when setting an attribute, consider using properties with getter and setter methods. This way, you can have control over how the attribute is modified.
  • Update the Correct Object: Ensure that you are trying to set the attribute on the correct object. Sometimes, this error can occur when you mistakenly access the wrong object.


Let's see an example where we encounter the "AttributeError: can't set attribute" error and how we can handle it.

    class Person:
        def __init__(self, name, age):
   = name
            self.age = age

    person = Person("Alice", 30)

    # Trying to set a non-existent attribute
        person.gender = "Female"  # This will raise AttributeError
    except AttributeError as e:
        print("AttributeError:", e)

    # Using property to set an attribute
    class Employee:
        def __init__(self, name, salary):
            self._name = name
            self._salary = salary

        def name(self):
            return self._name

        def name(self, value):
            self._name = value.upper()

    employee = Employee("Bob", 50000) = "John"  # This will set the attribute using the property

    print("Employee Name:",  # Output: JOHN


The "AttributeError: can't set attribute" error is a common issue in Python when trying to set an attribute that doesn't exist or is not modifiable. By understanding the causes of this error and using properties or proper attribute checks, you can effectively handle this error and ensure your code runs smoothly.



Contact Form