NLP vs NLU: from Understanding a Language to Its Processing

nlp vs nlu

This has implications for various industries, including journalism, marketing, and e-commerce. We hope this blog helps you understand the inner workings of an NLP-powered search engine. To know more about the impact of NLP on SEO, refer to this in-depth Scalenut blog on 12 real-world examples of Natural Language Processing (NLP). Throughout the content creation process, Scalenut helps you gauge the quality of your content with the help of our proprietary content grade, which analyzes text based on the NLP terms and quality of the content. Scalenut is an all-in-one content marketing and SEO platform that enables you to use NLP, NLU, and NLG for creating content.

Natural language processing works by taking unstructured data and converting it into a structured data format. For example, the suffix -ed on a word, like called, indicates past tense, but it has the same base infinitive (to call) as the present tense verb calling. NLU goes beyond the basic processing of language and is meant to comprehend and extract meaning from text or speech. As a result, NLU  deals with more advanced tasks like semantic analysis, coreference resolution, and intent recognition. NLU performs as a subset of NLP, and both systems work with processing language using artificial intelligence, data science, and machine learning. With natural language processing, computers can analyze the text put in by the user.

Human interaction allows for errors in the produced text and speech compensating them by excellent pattern recognition and drawing additional information from the context. This shows the lopsidedness of the syntax-focused analysis and the need for a closer focus on multilevel semantics. NLP, NLU, and NLG are all branches of AI that work together to enable computers to understand and interact with human language.

Not only does this save customer support teams hundreds of hours,it also helps them prioritize urgent tickets. You can type text or upload whole documents and receive translations in dozens of languages using machine translation tools. Google Translate even includes optical character recognition (OCR) software, which allows machines to extract text from images, read and translate it. Explore some of the latest NLP research at IBM or take a look at some of IBM’s product offerings, like Watson Natural Language Understanding. Its text analytics service offers insight into categories, concepts, entities, keywords, relationships, sentiment, and syntax from your textual data to help you respond to user needs quickly and efficiently. Help your business get on the right track to analyze and infuse your data at scale for AI.

It is a way that enables interaction between a computer and a human in a way like humans do using natural languages like English, French, Hindi etc. Now that we understand the basics of NLP, NLU, and NLG, let’s take a closer look at the key components of each technology. These components are the building blocks that work together to enable chatbots to understand, interpret, and generate natural language data. By leveraging these technologies, chatbots can provide efficient and effective customer service and support, freeing up human agents to focus on more complex tasks.

NLP, NLU, and NLG: Different Yet Complementary Technologies for Natural Communication

NLU delves into comprehensive analysis and deep semantic understanding to grasp the meaning, purpose, and context of text or voice data. NLU techniques enable systems to tackle ambiguities, capture subtleties, recognize linkages, and interpret references within the content. This process involves integrating external knowledge for holistic comprehension. Leveraging sophisticated methods and in-depth semantic analysis, NLU strives to extract and understand the nuanced meanings embedded in linguistic expressions. Natural Language Understanding(NLU) is an area of artificial intelligence to process input data provided by the user in natural language say text data or speech data.

It is mainly used to build chatbots that can work through voice and text and potentially replace human workers to handle customers independently. Both language processing algorithms are used by multiple businesses across several different industries. For example, NLP is often used for SEO purposes by businesses since the information extraction feature can draw up data related to any keyword. By accessing the storage of pre-recorded results, NLP algorithms can quickly match the needed information with the user input and return the result to the end-user in seconds using its text extraction feature. NLP algorithms are used to understand the meaning of a user’s text in a machine, while NLU algorithms take actions and core decisions.

nlp vs nlu

However, the grammatical correctness or incorrectness does not always correlate with the validity of a phrase. Think of the classical example of a meaningless yet grammatical sentence “colorless green ideas sleep furiously”. Even more, in the real life, meaningful sentences often contain minor errors and can be classified as ungrammatical.


With natural language processing and machine learning working behind the scenes, all you need to focus on is using the tools and helping them to improve their natural language understanding. While natural language understanding focuses on computer reading comprehension, natural language generation enables computers to write. NLG is the process of producing a human language text response based on some data input. This text can also be converted into a speech format through text-to-speech services. NLP is an already well-established, decades-old field operating at the cross-section of computer science, artificial intelligence, an increasingly data mining. The ultimate of NLP is to read, decipher, understand, and make sense of the human languages by machines, taking certain tasks off the humans and allowing for a machine to handle them instead.

What is Natural Language Understanding & How Does it Work? – Simplilearn

What is Natural Language Understanding & How Does it Work?.

Posted: Fri, 11 Aug 2023 07:00:00 GMT [source]

For example, NLP allows speech recognition to capture spoken language in real-time, transcribe it, and return text- NLU goes an extra step to determine a user’s intent. However, syntactic analysis is more related to the core of NLU examples, where the literal meaning behind a sentence is assessed by looking into its syntax and how words come together. Using tokenization, NLP processes can replace sensitive information with other values to protect the end user.

Natural Language Understanding

Since customers’ input is not standardized, chatbots need powerful NLU capabilities to understand customers. However, NLU lets computers understand “emotions” and “real meanings” of the sentences. And AI-powered chatbots have become an increasingly popular form of customer service and communication. From answering customer queries to providing support, AI chatbots are solving several problems, and businesses are eager to adopt them. Marketers use NLG to program machines to generate human-sounding text in response to the result of the NLU processes.

6 min read – Get the key steps for creating an effective customer retention strategy that will help retain customers and keep your business competitive. Technology will continue to make NLP more accessible for both businesses and customers. Book a career consultation with one of our experts if you want to break into a new career with AI. By considering clients’ habits and hobbies, nowadays chatbots recommend holiday packages to customers (see Figure 8).

NLP is the more traditional processing system, whereas NLU is much more advanced, even as a subset of the former. Online retailers can use this system to analyze the meaning of feedback on their product pages and primary site to understand if their clients are happy with their products. We are in the process of writing and adding new material (compact eBooks) exclusively available to our members, and written in simple English, by world leading experts in AI, data science, and machine learning. Pursuing the goal to create a chatbot that would be able to interact with human in a human-like manner — and finally to pass the Turing’s test, businesses and academia are investing more in NLP and NLU techniques. The product they have in mind aims to be effortless, unsupervised, and able to interact directly with people in an appropriate and successful manner. Both technologies are widely used across different industries and continue expanding.

nlp vs nlu

When an unfortunate incident occurs, customers file a claim to seek compensation. As a result, insurers should take into account the emotional context of the claims processing. As a result, if insurance companies choose to automate claims processing with chatbots, they must be certain of the chatbot’s emotional and NLU skills. By default, virtual assistants tell you the weather for your current location, unless you specify a particular city. The goal of question answering is to give the user response in their natural language, rather than a list of text answers.

It enables us to move away from traditional marketing methods of “trial and error” and toward campaigns that are more targeted and have a higher return on investment. For them, it’s all about understanding what a searcher is looking for and providing the best sources of information on that topic. Automated reasoning is a subfield of cognitive science that is used to automatically prove mathematical theorems or make logical inferences about a medical diagnosis. It gives machines a form of reasoning or logic, and allows them to infer new facts by deduction. Using complex algorithms that rely on linguistic rules and AI machine training, Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, and Facebook Translation have become leaders in the field of “generic” language translation.

NLP employs both rule-based systems and statistical models to analyze and generate text. Linguistic patterns and norms guide rule-based approaches, where experts manually craft rules for handling language components like syntax and grammar. NLP’s dual approach blends human-crafted rules with data-driven techniques to comprehend and generate text effectively. In human language processing, NLP and NLU, while visually resembling each other, serve distinct functions.

nlp vs nlu

Natural language understanding is a subset technology of NLP that focuses on understanding human language. People can use different words or jargon to say the same thing in the same language. NLU helps computer programs understand the context, intent, semantics, and sentiment of human language by adapting our language into a computer-friendly data structure.

In contrast, natural language understanding tries to understand the user’s intent and helps match the correct answer based on their needs. It extracts pertinent details, infers context, and draws meaningful conclusions from speech or text data. While delving deeper into semantic and contextual understanding, NLU builds upon the foundational principles of natural language processing. Its primary focus lies in discerning the meaning, relationships, and intents conveyed by language. This involves tasks like sentiment analysis, entity linking, semantic role labeling, coreference resolution, and relation extraction. Learn how to extract and classify text from unstructured data with MonkeyLearn’s no-code, low-code text analysis tools.

For those interested, here is our benchmarking on the top sentiment analysis tools in the market. Scalenut is an all-in-one SEO and content marketing platform that is powered by AI and enables marketers all over the world to make high-quality, competitive content at scale. From research, planning, and outlines to ensuring quality, Scalenut helps you achieve the best in everything. Whether you are marketing your products through blogs or posts on social media, an understanding of NLP and its subsets combined with a tool like Scalenut is a sure-shot recipe for success. NLP can be used in several different ways to produce deep insights into the motivations of consumers. A thorough analysis of historical customer chats, for example, can reveal pain points that can then be used to create in-depth content marketing campaigns.

When we talk about natural language processing, NLU and NLG play a crucial role in the process. NLU helps computers understand the text they are given and its nuances, and NLG helps them produce useful output. Together, they form NLP, an artificially intelligent computing system that understands humans and the nitty-gritty of human language. While natural language processing (NLP), natural language understanding (NLU), and natural language generation (NLG) are all related topics, they are distinct ones. Given how they intersect, they are commonly confused within conversation, but in this post, we’ll define each term individually and summarize their differences to clarify any ambiguities.

Natural language processing and its subsets have numerous practical applications within today’s world, like healthcare diagnoses or online customer service. Natural Language Understanding Applications are becoming increasingly important in the business world. NLUs require specialized skills in the fields of AI and machine learning and this can prevent development teams that lack the time and resources to add NLP capabilities to their applications.

How NLP and NLU correlate

Natural Language Processing focuses on the interaction between computers and human language. It involves the development of algorithms and techniques to enable computers to comprehend, analyze, and generate textual or speech input in a meaningful and useful way. The tech aims at bridging the gap between human interaction and computer understanding. NLP involves the processing of large amounts of natural language data, including tasks like tokenization, part-of-speech tagging, and syntactic parsing. A chatbot may use NLP to understand the structure of a customer’s sentence and identify the main topic or keyword.

NLU & NLP: AI’s Game Changers in Customer Interaction – CMSWire

NLU & NLP: AI’s Game Changers in Customer Interaction.

Posted: Fri, 16 Feb 2024 08:00:00 GMT [source]

For instance, take the English word “running.” NLP helps computers understand that this word is an adjective of “run” and has a similar meaning. NLP is concerned with how computers are programmed to process language and facilitate “natural” back-and-forth communication between computers and humans. NLP can process text from grammar, structure, typo, and point of view—but it will be NLU that will help the machine infer the intent behind the language text. So, even though there are many overlaps between NLP and NLU, this differentiation sets them distinctly apart. Going back to our weather enquiry example, it is NLU which enables the machine to understand that those three different questions have the same underlying weather forecast query. After all, different sentences can mean the same thing, and, vice versa, the same words can mean different things depending on how they are used.

In the broader context of NLU vs NLP, while NLP focuses on language processing, NLU specifically delves into deciphering intent and context. Natural Language Understanding provides machines with the capabilities to understand and interpret human language in a way that goes beyond surface-level processing. It is designed to extract meaning, intent, and context from text or speech, allowing machines to comprehend contextual and emotional touch and intelligently respond to human communication. Importantly, though sometimes used interchangeably, they are actually two different concepts that have some overlap.

In this report, you will find a list of NLP keywords that your competitors are using, which you can use in your content to rank higher. As marketers, we are always on the lookout for new technology to create better, more focused marketing campaigns. NLP is one type of technology that helps marketing experts worldwide make their campaigns more effective.

Still, NLU is based on sentiment analysis, as in its attempts to identify the real intent of human words, whichever language they are spoken in. This is quite challenging and makes NLU a relatively new phenomenon compared to traditional NLP. This intent recognition concept is based on multiple algorithms drawing from various texts to understand sub-contexts and hidden meanings. However, as discussed in this guide, NLU (Natural Language Understanding) is just as crucial in AI language models, even though it is a part of the broader definition of NLP. Both these algorithms are essential in handling complex human language and giving machines the input that can help them devise better solutions for the end user.

These technologies work together to create intelligent chatbots that can handle various customer service tasks. As we see advancements in AI technology, we can expect chatbots to have more efficient and human-like interactions with customers. From search engines trying to understand search queries to chatbots talking like humans, NLU, NLP, and NLG are breakthroughs in technology that will change the way we interact with computers forever. With text analysis solutions like MonkeyLearn, machines can understand the content of customer support tickets and route them to the correct departments without employees having to open every single ticket. Not only does this save customer support teams hundreds of hours, but it also helps them prioritize urgent tickets. If a developer wants to build a simple chatbot that produces a series of programmed responses, they could use NLP along with a few machine learning techniques.

Natural language understanding (NLU) is a subfield of natural language processing (NLP), which involves transforming human language into a machine-readable format. Natural language processing is best used in systems where focusing on keywords and working through large amounts of text without focusing on sentiments or emotions is essential. It all comes down to breaking down the primary language we use every day, and it has been used across many products for many years now. Some common examples of NLP applications include editing software, search engines, chatbots, text summarisation, categorization, mining, and even part-of-speech tagging.

AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month. Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years.

Let’s illustrate this example by using a famous NLP model called Google Translate. As seen in Figure 3, Google translates the Turkish proverb “Damlaya damlaya göl olur.” as “Drop by drop, it becomes a lake.” This is an exact word by word translation of the sentence. The future of NLP, NLU, and NLG is very promising, with many advancements in these technologies already being made and many more expected in the future. Or, if you have a lot of information from a market survey, you can use NLU to pull out statistical information and get a sense of what all the answers mean. Further, a SaaS platform can use NLP to create an intelligent chatbot that can understand the visitor’s questions and answer them appropriately, increasing the conversion rate of websites.

These notions are connected and often used interchangeably, but they stand for different aspects of language processing and understanding. Distinguishing between NLP and NLU is essential for researchers and developers to create appropriate AI solutions for business automation tasks. Sometimes people know what they are looking for but do not know the exact name of the good.

NLU leverages advanced machine learning and deep learning techniques, employing intricate algorithms and neural networks to enhance language comprehension. You can foun additiona information about ai customer service and artificial intelligence and NLP. Integrating external knowledge sources such as ontologies and knowledge graphs is common in NLU to augment understanding. Semantic Role Labeling (SRL) is a pivotal tool for discerning relationships and functions of words or phrases concerning a specific predicate in a sentence. This nuanced approach facilitates more nuanced and contextually accurate language interpretation by systems.

First of all, they both deal with the relationship between a natural language and artificial intelligence. They both attempt to make sense of unstructured data, like language, as opposed to structured data like statistics, actions, etc. NLP relies on syntactic and structural analysis to understand the grammatical composition of texts and phrases. By focusing on surface-level inspection, NLP enables machines to identify the basic structure and constituent elements of language. This initial step facilitates subsequent processing and structural analysis, providing the foundation for the machine to comprehend and interact with the linguistic aspects of the input data.

NLP vs NLU: Understanding the Difference

In the world of AI, for a machine to be considered intelligent, it must pass the Turing Test. A test developed by Alan Turing in the 1950s, which pits humans against the machine. Natural languages are different from formal or constructed languages, which have a different origin and development path. For example, programming languages including C, Java, Python, and many more were created for a specific reason. 7 min read – Six ways organizations use a private cloud to support ongoing digital transformation and create business value. Because of its immense influence on our economy and everyday lives, it’s incredibly important to understand key aspects of AI, and potentially even implement them into our business practices.

It involves tasks like entity recognition, intent recognition, and context management. ” the chatbot uses NLU to understand that the customer is asking about the business hours of the company and provide a relevant response. Conversational interfaces are powered primarily by natural language processing (NLP), and a key subset of NLP is natural language understanding (NLU). The terms NLP and NLU are often used interchangeably, but they have slightly different meanings.

He is a technology veteran with over a decade of experience in product development. He is the co-captain of the ship, steering product strategy, development, and management at Scalenut. His goal is to build a platform that can be used by organizations of all sizes and domains across borders. Further, once you have created a content brief for your topic, you can use NLG features such as “write,” “instruct,” and AI templates to generate human-sounding text. You can also change the AI output settings, such as output length and creativity. Scalenut will analyze the top-ranking content on the internet and produce a comprehensive research report.

nlp vs nlu

NLP algorithms are used by search engines to figure out how good a piece of content is and how relevant it is to a user’s search query. According to various industry estimates only about 20% of data collected is structured data. The remaining 80% is unstructured data—the majority of which is unstructured text data that’s unusable for traditional methods. Just think of all the online text you consume daily, social media, news, research, product websites, and more. But before any of this natural language processing can happen, the text needs to be standardized. NLP is an umbrella term which encompasses any and everything related to making machines able to process natural language—be it receiving the input, understanding the input, or generating a response.

These techniques have been shown to greatly improve the accuracy of NLP tasks, such as sentiment analysis, machine translation, and speech recognition. As these techniques continue to develop, we can expect to see even more accurate and efficient NLP algorithms. Some common applications of NLP include sentiment analysis, machine translation, speech recognition, chatbots, and text summarization. NLP is used in industries such as healthcare, finance, e-commerce, and social media, among others. For example, in healthcare, NLP is used to extract medical information from patient records and clinical notes to improve patient care and research.

As a result, they do not require both excellent NLU skills and intent recognition. If your customers are using NLP to find information related to your products, creating a marketing plan around NLP terms makes sense. It helps your content get in front of the right audience with the right search intent.

Semantic analysis, the core of NLU, involves applying computer algorithms to understand the meaning and interpretation of words and is not yet fully resolved. Sentiment analysis and intent identification are not necessary to improve user experience if people tend to use more conventional sentences or expose a structure, such as multiple choice questions. While each technology has its own unique set of applications and use cases, the lines between them are becoming increasingly blurred as they continue to evolve and converge. With the advancements in machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks, we can expect to see even more powerful and accurate NLP, NLU, and NLG applications in the future. Being a subset of NLP, natural language understanding plays an important role in all the use cases of NLP in marketing. NLP search algorithms are used by search engines like Google and Bing to index and understand the content on websites.

A third algorithm called NLG (Natural Language Generation) generates output text for users based on structured data. Even more, in the real life, meaningful sentences often contain minor errors and can be classified as ungrammatical. Integrating NLP and NLU with other AI fields, such as computer vision and machine learning, holds promise for advanced language translation, text summarization, and question-answering systems. Responsible development and collaboration among academics, industry, and regulators are pivotal for the ethical and transparent application of language-based AI. The evolving landscape may lead to highly sophisticated, context-aware AI systems, revolutionizing human-machine interactions.

NLP has several different functions to judge the text, including lemmatization and tokenization. Natural language understanding is the first step in many processes, such as categorizing text, gathering news, archiving individual pieces of text, and, on a larger scale, analyzing Chat PG content. Much more complex endeavors might be fully comprehending news articles or shades of meaning within poetry or novels. By way of contrast, NLU targets deep semantic understanding and multi-faceted analysis to comprehend the meaning, aim, and textual environment.

Bharat Saxena has over 15 years of experience in software product development, and has worked in various stages, from coding to managing a product. His current active areas of research are conversational AI and algorithmic bias in AI. Chrissy Kidd is a writer and editor who makes sense of theories and new developments in technology. Formerly the managing editor of BMC Blogs, you can reach her on LinkedIn or at

Syntax analysis focuses on sentence structure to understand grammar and other aspects of an input text. The semantic analysis builds on that and zeros in on the meaning of the nlp vs nlu input data in the given context. And sentiment analysis helps them understand the overall emotional quotient in relationship with the entities mentioned in the content.

They use the same technologies to understand what users are really looking for and match them with the most helpful content in their index. Question answering is a subfield of NLP and speech recognition that uses NLU to help computers automatically understand natural language questions. Text analysis solutions enable machines to automatically understand the content of customer support tickets and route them to the correct departments without employees having to open every single ticket.

Its core objective is furnishing computers with methods and algorithms for effective processing and modification of spoken or written language. NLP primarily handles fundamental functions such as Part-of-Speech (POS) tagging and tokenization, laying the groundwork for more advanced language-related tasks within the realm of human-machine communication. Natural Language Understanding (NLU), a subset of Natural Language Processing (NLP), employs semantic analysis to derive meaning from textual content. NLU addresses the complexities of language, acknowledging that a single text or word may carry multiple meanings, and meaning can shift with context.

While NLU, NLP, and NLG are often used interchangeably, they are distinct technologies that serve different purposes in natural language communication. NLU is concerned with understanding the meaning and intent behind data, while NLG is focused on generating natural-sounding responses. Natural language processing is changing the way computers interact with people forever. It can do things like figure out which part of speech words and phrases belong to and make logical sequences of texts as a reply. According to Zendesk, tech companies receive more than 2,600 customer support inquiries per month. Using NLU technology, you can sort unstructured data (email, social media, live chat, etc.) by topic, sentiment, and urgency (among others).

However, if a developer wants to build an intelligent contextual assistant capable of having sophisticated natural-sounding conversations with users, they would need NLU. NLU is the component that allows the contextual assistant to understand the intent of each utterance by a user. Without it, the assistant won’t be able to understand what a user means throughout a conversation.

Developers need to understand the difference between natural language processing and natural language understanding so they can build successful conversational applications. Natural language understanding is a branch of AI that understands sentences using text or speech. NLU allows machines to understand human interaction by using algorithms to reduce human speech into structured definitions and concepts for understanding relationships. Some other common uses of NLU (which tie in with NLP to some extent) are information extraction, parsing, speech recognition, and tokenization. Importantly, though sometimes used interchangeably, they are actually two different concepts that have some overlap.

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