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Written by Steven Bussey
on July 12, 2022

Machine Translation vs. Human  Translation

In the modern era, technology has advanced to provide us with many options for how we communicate. We can now connect with people all over the world instantaneously through messaging apps and social media. But what about when we need to communicate with someone who speaks a different language? This is where machine translation and human translation come in. 

What is machine translation?

Machine Translation (MT) is the application of automated AI-facilitated software for translating spoken or text language. Basic MT software simply performs word-for-word substitutions. More advanced MT software can take into account grammar, syntax, and context to provide more accurate translations. Some MT software can even produce translations that sound natural and fluent, like those produced by human translators.

Human translation is considered to be more accurate than machine translation, as it takes into account the complexities of language that machines cannot always understand. So why and when should you use Machine Translation? It depends on your content and budget needs. Below, we go more in-depth on the uses of MT to break down the question in more detail in order for you could make the best decision for your translation approach. 

Pros and cons of machine translation

Machine translation has come a long way in recent years, but it still has its limitations. Here are some pros and cons of using machine translation:


1. Machine translation can be very fast, especially compared to human translation.

2. Machine translation can be more accurate than human translation, especially for shorter texts or texts with simple grammar.

3. Machine translation can be used for large projects that would be too expensive or time-consuming to translate using human translators.


1. Machine translation can produce strange or inaccurate results, especially for longer texts or texts with complex grammar. This is because MT relies on algorithms to translate text, which can sometimes misinterpret the meaning of the original text.

2. Machine translation can miss nuances and subtleties in the original text, which can change the meaning of the text. Human translators are better able to pick up on these nuances and ensure that they are reflected in the translated text.

3. Some people prefer the personal touch that comes with working with a human translator, as opposed to a machine.


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Pros and cons of human translation

There are many pros and cons to human translation versus machine translation, so it's important to weigh both options before deciding which is right for your project.

On the plus side, human translators are able to understand the context of your content and translate it accurately. They can also pick up on subtle nuances and cultural references that a machine might not be able to identify.

However, human translation can be expensive and time-consuming, especially if you need your content translated into multiple languages. It can also be difficult to find qualified translators who are familiar with your industry terminology.


When to use machine translation and when to use human translation

When it comes to translation, there are two main options: machine translation and human translation. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to know when to use each one.

Machine translation is fast and can be done automatically, but it's not always accurate. Human translation is more accurate but takes longer and costs more.

Here are some guidelines to help you decide when to use machine translation and when to use human translation:

If accuracy is more important than speed, then human translation is the better option. This is especially true for important documents such as legal contracts or medical records.

If you need a quick translation for something that isn't too complex, then machine translation can be a fine choice. 

However, if you feel your project has complex content, is time or budget sensitive, don't fret just yet as we have a solution for you too. Learn about Machine Translation post-editing best practices.



Machine translation is a great solution for projects that are high in volume, budget-conscious, or have to meet tight turnaround times. If you believe that machine translation is the right choice for your project, we suggest checking our Ultimate Guide to Machine Translation Software where we go in-depth on different types of machine translation platforms. 

Still not sure which option is right for you? No problem! After all, translation & localization projects require a lot of preparation as one wrong move can cost a business its reputation. To prevent that, we offer an obligation-free consultation by industry experts who can guide you in the right direction no matter the industry type or size. 

Contact Andovar

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