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# Beautiful Soup | previous_element property

schedule Aug 12, 2023
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PythonBeautiful Soup
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In Beautiful Soup, the `previous_element` property returns the previous `string` or `tag` in the parse tree. We will go through the subtleties of this property using examples.

# Examples

Consider the following HTML document:

``` my_html = """    <p>Alex</p>   <p id="bob">Bob</p>"""soup = BeautifulSoup(my_html) ```

Let's get the `previous_element` of `<p>Bob</p>`:

``` p_bob = soup.find(id="bob")p_bob.previous_element '\n' ```

The result may be surprising for those who expected to see `<p>Alex</p>`. Such a result arises because there is a new line character `\n` between `<p>Alex</p>` and `<p>Bob</p>`. To get to Alex, then, you would need to call the `previous_element` yet again:

``` p_bob = soup.find(id="bob")p_bob.previous_element.previous_element 'Alex' ```

Here, we've obtained the string (i.e. the inner text) of `<p>Alex</p>`. To get the tag itself, we need to call the `previous_element` yet again:

``` p_bob = soup.find(id="bob")p_bob.previous_element.previous_element.previous_element <p>Alex</p> ```

If you just wanted to access the previous element, then the better alternative would be to call the `find_previous_sibling()` method:

``` p_bob = soup.find(id="bob")p_bob.find_previous_sibling() <p>Alex</p> ```
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