ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'nltk' in Python

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Borislav Hadzhiev

Last updated: Jan 31, 2023
10 min

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# ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'nltk' in Python

The Python "ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'nltk'" occurs when we forget to install the nltk module before importing it or install it in an incorrect environment.

To solve the error, install the module by running the pip install nltk command.

no module named nltk

Open your terminal in your project's root directory and install the nltk module.

shell
# ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ in a virtual environment or using Python 2 pip install nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for python 3 (could also be pip3.10 depending on your version) pip3 install nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you get permissions error sudo pip3 install nltk pip install nltk --user # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you don't have pip in your PATH environment variable python -m pip install nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for python 3 (could also be pip3.10 depending on your version) python3 -m pip install nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ using py alias (Windows) py -m pip install nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for Anaconda conda install -c anaconda nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for Jupyter Notebook !pip install nltk

After you install the nltk package, try importing it like:

main.py
import nltk print(nltk.__version__) nltk.download() sentence = """At eight o'clock on Thursday morning Arthur didn't feel very good.""" tokens = nltk.word_tokenize(sentence) print(tokens)

# Common causes of the error

The error occurs for multiple reasons:

  1. Not having the nltk package installed by running pip install nltk.
  2. Installing the package in a different Python version than the one you're using.
  3. Installing the package globally and not in your virtual environment.
  4. Your IDE running an incorrect version of Python.
  5. Naming your module nltk.py which would shadow the official module.
  6. Declaring a variable named nltk which would shadow the imported variable.

If the error persists, get your Python version and make sure you are installing the package using the correct Python version.

shell
python --version

get python version

For example, my Python version is 3.10.4, so I would install the nltk package with pip3.10 install nltk.

shell
pip3.10 install nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you get permissions error use pip3 (NOT pip3.X) sudo pip3 install nltk

Notice that the version number corresponds to the version of pip I'm using.

If the PATH for pip is not set up on your machine, replace pip with python3 -m pip:

shell
# ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ make sure to use your version of Python, e.g. 3.10 python3 -m pip install nltk

If the error persists, try restarting your IDE and development server/script.

# Check if the package is installed

You can check if you have the nltk package installed by running the pip show nltk command.

shell
# ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ check if you have nltk installed pip show nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you don't have pip set up in PATH python -m pip show nltk

The pip show nltk command will either state that the package is not installed or show a bunch of information about the package, including the location where the package is installed.

# Make sure your IDE is using the correct Python version

If the package is not installed, make sure your IDE is using the correct version of Python.

If you have multiple Python versions installed on your machine, you might have installed the nltk package using the incorrect version or your IDE might be set up to use a different version.

For example, In VSCode, you can press CTRL + Shift + P or (โŒ˜ + Shift + P on Mac) to open the command palette.

Then type "Python select interpreter" in the field.

python select interpreter

Then select the correct python version from the dropdown menu.

select correct python version

Your IDE should be using the same version of Python (including the virtual environment) that you are using to install packages from your terminal.

# Install the package in a Virtual Environment

If you are using a virtual environment, make sure you are installing nltk in your virtual environment and not globally.

You can try creating a virtual environment if you don't already have one.

shell
# ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ use correct version of Python when creating VENV python3 -m venv venv # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ activate on Unix or MacOS source venv/bin/activate # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ activate on Windows (cmd.exe) venv\Scripts\activate.bat # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ activate on Windows (PowerShell) venv\Scripts\Activate.ps1 # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ install nltk in virtual environment pip install nltk

If the python3 -m venv venv command doesn't work, try the following 2 commands:

  • python -m venv venv
  • py -m venv venv

Your virtual environment will use the version of Python that was used to create it.

If the error persists, make sure you haven't named a module in your project as nltk.py because that would shadow the original nltk module.

You also shouldn't be declaring a variable named nltk as that would also shadow the original module.

# Try reinstalling the package

If the error is not resolved, try to uninstall the nltk package and then reinstall it.

shell
# ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ check if you have nltk installed pip show nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you don't have pip set up in PATH python -m pip show nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ uninstall nltk pip uninstall nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you don't have pip set up in PATH python -m pip uninstall nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ install nltk pip install nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you don't have pip set up in PATH python -m pip install nltk

Try restarting your IDE and development server/script.

You can also try to upgrade the version of the nltk package.

shell
pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you don't have pip set up in PATH python -m pip install nltk --upgrade
If the error persists, follow the operating system-specific instructions on how to install nltk.

# Table of Contents

  1. Install NLTK on Windows
  2. Install NLTK on macOS or Linux
  3. Install NLTK in Visual Studio Code
  4. Install NLTK in PyCharm
  5. Install NLTK in Anaconda
  6. Install NLTK in Jupyter Notebook

# Install NLTK on Windows

To install the nltk module on Windows:

  1. Type CMD in the search bar and open the Command Prompt application.
  2. Type pip install nltk and press Enter.
cmd
pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for Python 3 pip3 install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you don't have pip in your PATH environment variable python -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for Python 3 python3 -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ using py alias py -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you get permissions error pip install nltk --user --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for Anaconda conda install -c anaconda nltk

pip install nltk windows

If the command doesn't succeed, try running CMD as an administrator.

Right-click on the search result, click on "Run as administrator" and run the pip install command.

run cmd as administrator

If you get the error 'pip' is not recognized as an internal or external command, use the python -m command when installing nltk.

shell
python -m pip install nltk --upgrade python3 -m pip install nltk --upgrade py -m pip install nltk --upgrade

Alternatively, you can install the nltk module in a virtual environment:

  1. Open the root directory of your project.
  2. Press Shift and right-click in Explorer.

windows open powershell window here

  1. Click on "Open PowerShell window here".
  2. Run the following commands.
PowerShell
# ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ might also be: "python3 -m venv venv" python -m venv venv # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ activate on Windows (PowerShell) venv\Scripts\Activate.ps1 # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ activate on Windows (cmd.exe) venv\Scripts\activate.bat # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ install nltk in virtual environment pip install nltk

If the python -m venv venv command doesn't work, try the following 2 commands:

  • python3 -m venv venv
  • py -m venv venv.

If you see an error message that ps1 cannot be loaded because running scripts is disabled on this system, run the following command, type "yes" when prompted and rerun the activation command.

PowerShell
Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Scope CurrentUser
You can verify that the nltk module is installed by using the pip show nltk command.
PowerShell
pip show nltk pip3 show nltk python -m pip show nltk python3 -m pip show nltk

The pip show nltk command will either state that the package is not installed or show a bunch of information about the package, including the location where the package is installed.

# Install NLTK on macOS or Linux

To install NLTK on macOS or Linux:

  1. Search for "terminal" and start the application.
  2. Type pip install nltk and press Enter.

search for terminal

terminal
pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for Python 3 pip3 install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you get permissions error sudo pip3 install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you don't have pip in your PATH environment variable python -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for python 3 python3 -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ alternative if you get permissions error pip install nltk --user --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for Anaconda conda install -c anaconda nltk

macos linux install nltk

If you get an error that pip isn't found, use the python -m command.

terminal
python -m pip install nltk --upgrade python3 -m pip install nltk --upgrade

If you get a permissions error, prefix the command with sudo.

terminal
sudo pip install nltk --upgrade sudo pip3 install nltk --upgrade

Alternatively, you can install the nltk package in a virtual environment:

  1. Open your terminal in the root directory of your project.
  2. Run the following commands.
shell
# ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ could also be "python -m venv venv" python3 -m venv venv # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ activate virtual env on macOS or Linux source venv/bin/activate # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ install nltk in virtual environment pip install nltk

Your virtual environment will use the version of Python that was used to create it.

If the python3 -m venv venv command doesn't work, use python -m venv venv instead.

You can use the pip show command to verify nltk has been installed successfully.

shell
pip show nltk pip3 show nltk python -m pip show nltk python3 -m pip show nltk

The pip show nltk command will either state that the package is not installed or show a bunch of information about the package.

# Install NLTK in Visual Studio Code

To install nltk in Visual Studio Code:

  1. Press CTRL + ` (Backtick) on your keyboard to open the terminal.
  2. Run the pip install nltk command to install the nltk module.
terminal
pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for Python 3 pip3 install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you get permissions error sudo pip3 install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you don't have pip in your PATH environment variable python -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for python 3 python3 -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ using py alias py -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ alternative if you get permissions error pip install nltk --user --upgrade

vscode pip install nltk

You can also open the terminal in Visual studio code by pressing CTRL+Shift+P and then typing "View: Toggle Terminal".

When installing Python modules in Visual Studio code, make sure that your IDE is configured to use the correct Python version.

Press CTRL+Shift+P or (โŒ˜ + Shift + P on Mac) to open the command palette.

Then type "Python select interpreter" in the field.

python select interpreter

Then select the correct Python version from the dropdown menu.

select correct python version

Your IDE should be using the same version of Python (including the virtual environment) that you are using to install packages from your terminal.

You can use the python --version command if you need to get your version of Python.

terminal
python --version python3 --version

get python version

You can also try creating a virtual environment if you don't already have one.

terminal
# ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ could also be "python -m venv venv" or "py -m venv venv" python3 -m venv venv # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ activate on Unix or MacOS source venv/bin/activate # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ activate on Windows (cmd.exe) venv\Scripts\activate.bat # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ activate on Windows (PowerShell) venv\Scripts\Activate.ps1 # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ install nltk in virtual environment pip install nltk

Your virtual environment will use the version of Python that was used to create it.

# Install NLTK in PyCharm

To install NLTK in PyCharm:

  1. Press Alt+F12 on your keyboard to open the terminal.
  2. Run the pip install nltk command to install the nltk module.
terminal
pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for Python 3 pip3 install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you get permissions error sudo pip3 install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you don't have pip in your PATH environment variable python -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for python 3 python3 -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ using py alias py -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ alternative if you get permissions error pip install nltk --user --upgrade

pycharm pip install nltk

Alternatively, you can use the IDE itself to install the module.

  1. Click on "File" > "Settings" > "Project" > "Python Interpreter".
  2. Click on the + icon and type nltk.
  3. Click on "Install Package".

pycharm interpreter install nltk

When installing Python modules in PyCharm, make sure that your IDE is configured to use the correct version of Python.

Click on "File" > "Settings" > "Project" > "Python Interpreter".

pycharm select correct interpreter

Then select the correct Python version from the dropdown menu.

Your IDE should be using the same version of Python (including the virtual environment) that you are using to install packages from your terminal.

You can use the python --version command if you need to get your version of Python.

terminal
python --version python3 --version

get python version

# Install NLTK in Anaconda

To install NLTK in Anaconda:

  1. Open your Anaconda Navigator.
  2. Click on "Environments" and select your project.
  3. Type nltk in the search bar to the right.
  4. Tick the nltk package and click on "Apply".

anaconda navigator install package

Alternatively, you can install the nltk package with a command.

If you are on Windows, search for "Anaconda Prompt" and open the application.

If you are on macOS or Linux, open your terminal.

Run the following command to install the nltk package.

shell
# ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ using conda conda install -c anaconda nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ Alternatively use `pip` pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for Python 3 pip3 install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you get permissions error sudo pip3 install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you don't have pip in your PATH environment variable python -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for python 3 python3 -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ using py alias py -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ alternative if you get permissions error pip install nltk --user --upgrade

Click on the following article if you need to install a specific version of the package using Anaconda.

# Install NLTK in Jupyter Notebook

To install NLTK in Jupyter Notebook:

  1. Open your terminal and type "jupyter notebook".

open jupyter notebook

  1. Click on "New" and then "Terminal" in the browser tab.

jupyter notebook click new terminal

  1. Type pip install nltk and press Enter.
shell
# ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ using pip pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for Python 3 pip3 install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you get permissions error sudo pip3 install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ if you don't have pip in your PATH environment variable python -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ for python 3 python3 -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ using py alias py -m pip install nltk --upgrade # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ using conda conda install -c anaconda nltk # ๐Ÿ‘‡๏ธ alternative if you get permissions error pip install nltk --user --upgrade

Alternatively, you can use the Python ipykernel.

  1. Open your terminal and type "jupyter notebook".

open jupyter notebook

  1. Click on "New" and then click on "Python 3 (ipykernel)". jupyter notebook click new ipykernel

  2. Type !pip install nltk and click on "Run".

jupyter notebook install module

Note that the pip install command must be prefixed with an exclamation mark if you use this approach.

shell
!pip install nltk --upgrade

Once you type the command, click "Run" to install the nltk module.

If you get a permissions error, e.g. "[WinError: 5] Access is denied", add the --user option to the installation command.

shell
!pip install nltk --user --upgrade

jupyter notebook install with user option

If the error persists, try to restart the Jupyter Kernel and rerun the command.

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Copyright ยฉ 2023 Borislav Hadzhiev