R Vs. Python: Which Should You Learn First?

Manpreet Singh
3 min readOct 10, 2020

For any data analysts / engineers / scientists out there, a question that seems to come up alot is “which language should I learn first: R or Python?” Personally, I am extremely early in my career and really have no business to recommend anything in this field, however, I believe it is valuable in having a fresh set of eyes since I haven’t been “grandfathered in” into a certain language.

Let’s go ahead and start listing some advantages and disadvantages for each language:

  • Large development community

There are millions of R users all across the world

  • Many packages / API’s available for this language

As a data science / processing language, R has many packages / API’s that can be used for data extraction, processing and plotting.

  • Ability to run C, C++, Java & even Python files within R scripts

With packages like, RCaller, RServe and even Reticulate, running other filetypes within R is a very easy task to accomplish.

Disadvantages for using R

  • Less machine learning packages (imo) than Python

In my (very short) experience, I found there to be not only more machine learning packages available, but also a bigger community in the Python world than on R in this specific category.

  • Mainly only used for data science / processing

R is mainly used for data operations, if you would like to build a game or really anything else, another language (like Python) maybe a better way to go.

  • Can be slower to run compared to Python

In some cases, running R scripts can take a bit more time than running similar Python scripts (shouldn’t really matter unless you’re running hundreds and hundreds of lines of code)

  • Can be harder to learn than Python

Compared to Python, R could be harder to learn than other languages like Python

  • Relatively easy to learn

Python has been a highly recommended first language to learn by many people

  • Huge development community

SlashData has predicted that there are now more than 8 million users of Python (compared to R’s 2 million users)

  • Versatile language
Manpreet Singh

Data Scientist / Engineer!