Language is a powerful tool. It can be used to express your thoughts and feelings, it can be used to make someone laugh or cry, and you can even use it to persuade people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. But what if you could use language to understand what someone else was thinking?

Natural language understanding is the future of artificial intelligence.

We know that computers can do amazing things, but they’re still far from understanding what we humans are saying. That’s because computers don’t have brains; they can’t learn, think, or even dream, at least not yet!

For computers to get closer to having human-like intelligence and capabilities, they need to be able to understand the way we humans speak. And that’s where natural language understanding comes into play.

What Is Natural Language Understanding (NLU)?

Natural Language Understanding (NLU) is the ability of a computer to understand human language. You can use it for many applications, such as chatbots, voice assistants, and automated translation services.

The most basic form of NLU is parsing, which takes text written in natural language and converts it into a structured format that computers can understand. 

For example, the words “hello world” would be converted into their respective parts of speech (nouns and verbs), while “I am hungry” would be split into two sentences: “I am” and “hungry.”

Parsing is only one part of NLU; other tasks include sentiment analysis, entity recognition, and semantic role labeling.

NLU vs. NLP vs. NLG

Natural language understanding is taking in an input text string and analyzing what it means. It can happen on a small scale. 

For example, when a human reads a user’s question on Twitter and replies with an answer, or on a large scale, like when Google parses millions of documents to figure out what they’re about.

Natural language processing is the process of turning human-readable text into computer-readable data. It’s used in everything from online search engines to chatbots that can understand our questions and give us answers based on what we’ve typed.

Natural language generation is the process of turning computer-readable data into human-readable text. For example, if you wanted to build a bot that could talk back to you as though it were another person, you might use NLG software to make sure it sounded like someone else was typing for them (rather than just spitting out random words).

How Does Natural Language Understanding Work?

Natural language understanding is taking a natural language input, like a sentence or paragraph, and processing it to produce an output. It’s often used in consumer-facing applications like web search engines and chatbots, where users interact with the application using plain language.

You can break down the process into three stages:

  • Tokenization: The first stage of NLU involves splitting a given input into individual words or tokens. It includes punctuation, other symbols, and words from all languages.
  • Lexical Analysis: Next, the tokens are placed into a dictionary that includes their part of speech (for example, whether they’re nouns or verbs). It also includes identifying phrases that should be placed in a separate database for later use.
  • Syntactic Analysis: The tokens are analyzed for their grammatical structure. It includes identifying each word’s roles and whether there’s any ambiguity between multiple interpretations of those roles.

Importance of Natural Language Understanding

Natural language understanding is the process of identifying the meaning of a text, and it’s becoming more and more critical in business. Natural language understanding software can help you gain a competitive advantage by providing insights into your data that you never had access to before.

When you’re analyzing data with natural language understanding software, you can find new ways to make business decisions based on the information you have. 

For instance, you are an online retailer with data about what your customers buy and when they buy them. 

Using a natural language understanding software will allow you to see patterns in your customer’s behavior and better decide what products to offer them in the future.

Companies can also use natural language understanding software in marketing campaigns by targeting specific groups of people with different messages based on what they’re already interested in. It can even predict what those people will want next.

Natural Language Understanding Applications

IVR and Message Routing

Answering customer calls and directing them to the correct department or person is an everyday use case for NLUs. Implementing an IVR system allows businesses to handle customer queries 24/7 without hiring additional staff or paying for overtime hours.

Data Capture

A data capture application will enable users to enter information into fields on a web form using natural language pattern matching rather than typing out every area manually with their keyboard. It makes it much quicker for users since they don’t need to remember what each field means or how they should fill it out correctly with their keyboard (e.g., date format).

Customer Support

Customer support agents can leverage NLU technology to gather information from customers while they’re on the phone without having to type out each question individually. 

Agents can also help customers with more complex issues by using NLU technology combined with natural language generation tools to create personalized responses based on specific information about each customer’s situation. 


A chatbot is a program that uses artificial intelligence to simulate conversations with human users. A chatbot may respond to each user’s input or have a set of responses for common questions or phrases. 

The goal of a chatbot is to minimize the amount of time people need to spend interacting with computers and maximize the amount of time they spend doing other things.

Virtual assistants

Virtual assistants are computer programs designed to help complete basic tasks for you, such as scheduling appointments, creating reminders, and sending emails. 

They can integrate with other apps on your phone or computer so that you don’t have to switch between programs when you want something done quickly, like sending someone an email or taking care of some errands online before heading out on vacation next week!

Natural Language Understanding Examples

Natural language understanding is a field that involves the application of artificial intelligence techniques to understand human languages. Natural language understanding aims to achieve human-like communication with computers by creating a digital system that can recognize and respond appropriately to human speech.

The most common example of natural language understanding is voice recognition technology. Voice recognition software can analyze spoken words and convert them into text or other data that the computer can process. 

One example is Amazon’s Alexa software, which allows users to issue commands by speaking them aloud instead of typing them in. 

Another example is Facebook’s Messenger app, which uses natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to help you communicate more effectively with friends and family who live far away from you physically but not emotionally or psychologically.

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1. What is meant by natural language understanding?

Natural language understanding is the ability to understand human language in its natural form and process it similarly to human comprehension.

2. Why is natural language understanding critical?

Natural language understanding is critical because it allows machines to interact with humans in a way that feels natural.

There are several benefits of natural language understanding for both humans and machines. Humans can communicate more effectively with systems that understand their language, and those machines can better respond to human needs.

3. What are natural language understanding and generation?

Natural language understanding and generation are two computer programming methods that allow computers to understand human speech.

Natural language understanding is how a computer program can intelligently understand, interpret, and respond to human speech. Natural language generation is the process by which a computer program creates content based on human speech input.

4. What are the steps in natural language understanding?

Natural language understanding is taking text and extracting meaning from it. It involves three significant steps:

  • Using a tokenizer to break up the input into individual words, or “tokens.”
  • Using a parser to determine the sentence’s grammatical structure, including identifying the parts of speech for each word.
  • Using a semantic analyzer to determine what words mean in context.

5. What are natural language and examples?

Natural language is the way we use words, phrases, and grammar to communicate with each other.

It’s a way of expressing ourselves in a way that’s true to how we talk and write, as opposed to an artificial or technical way.

Natural language includes slang and idioms, not in formal writing but common in everyday conversation.

6. Where is natural language understanding used?

Natural language understanding is used in a variety of industries. It can be used to help customers better understand the products and services that they’re interested in, or it can be used to help businesses better understand their customers’ needs.

It’s also valuable for technical settings, like online customer service applications and automated systems.

By Bury