Natural Language Processing or NLP allows humans to interact with computers using their natural language like English instead of computer languages. NLP helps computers understand, interpret and generate human languages. It is a field of artificial intelligence that helps computers process large amounts of natural language data. Python is one of the most popular programming languages used for NLP because of its powerful libraries like NLTK, SpaCy and TensorFlow. If you are interested in learning NLP and data science, you can enroll for a Python Data Science Course in Pune to gain hands-on experience in using Python libraries for tasks like text classification, sentiment analysis, machine translation and more.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction to Natural Language Processing
  • Basic Text Processing with NLTK
  • Tokenization and Text Normalization
  • Part-of-Speech (POS) Tagging
  • Named Entity Recognition (NER)
  • Sentiment Analysis
  • Text Classification with Machine Learning
  • Topic Modeling with Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA)
  • Word Embeddings with Word2Vec
  • Advanced NLP Techniques and Future Trends
  • Conclusion

Introduction to Natural Language Processing

Natural Language Processing or NLP refers to the field of study and application of computational techniques to analyze and represent human language. It aims to read, decipher, understand and make sense of the human language in a manner that is valuable. NLP plays a crucial role in areas like information retrieval, automatic summarization, translation, question answering, sentiment analysis and more.

With the rise of big data and availability of huge amounts of text data on the internet, there is a growing need for machines to understand human language at scale. This is where NLP comes into play by enabling machines to process, analyze, understand and generate text in human languages. Python has emerged as one of the most popular programming languages for NLP due to the availability of powerful open-source NLP libraries like NLTK, SpaCy, TensorFlow, scikit-learn and more.

In this blog, we will discuss some of the fundamental as well as advanced NLP techniques that can be implemented using Python. We will cover topics like text preprocessing, part-of-speech tagging, named entity recognition, sentiment analysis, text classification and more. By the end, the reader will have a good understanding of the basics of NLP and how to apply it using Python.

Basic Text Processing with NLTK

One of the first steps in any NLP task is to preprocess raw text data into a format that is suitable for analysis. This involves tasks like tokenization, stemming, lemmatization etc. Natural Language Toolkit or NLTK is one of the most popular Python libraries for basic NLP tasks and text processing.

Tokenization is the process of breaking down text into individual words, phrases or symbols known as tokens. NLTK provides functions like word_tokenize() to split text into words and sent_tokenize() to split into sentences.

Text normalization involves converting text to lowercase, removing punctuation, stopwords etc. This helps reduce noise and variability in the text. NLTK has functions like lowercase(), punctuation removal etc. for this purpose.

Stemming reduces words to their root form. For example, ‘studies’, ‘studying’, ‘studied’ would be reduced to ‘studi’. Lemmatization performs morphological analysis and reduces words to their base form. NLTK provides stemmers and lemmatizers.

Part-of-Speech (POS) Tagging

POS tagging refers to marking up words in a text as corresponding to a particular part of speech like noun, verb, adjective etc. This helps understand the grammatical structure and meaning of sentences.

NLTK provides a trained POS tagger that can tag text with high accuracy. The tagger uses Hidden Markov Models (HMM) and has been trained on several corpora. We can tag a sentence and get the POS tags for each word like:



from nltk import pos_tag, word_tokenize

sentence = “The cat sat on the mat.”
words = word_tokenize(sentence)
tags = pos_tag(words)

This would output: [(‘The’, ‘DT’), (‘cat’, ‘NN’), (‘sat’, ‘VBD’), (‘on’, ‘IN’), (‘the’, ‘DT’), (‘mat’, ‘NN’), (‘.’, ‘.’)]

Named Entity Recognition (NER)

NER is the task of locating and classifying named entities like person names, organizations, locations, monetary values, percentages, dates etc. in unstructured text into pre-defined categories.

NLTK provides a trained NER classifier that can recognize four common types of named entities – PERSON, ORGANIZATION, LOCATION, MISC. We can use it to extract named entities from text:



from nltk import ne_chunk, pos_tag, word_tokenize

sentence = “Barack Obama is the president of United States of America.”
words = word_tokenize(sentence)
tags = pos_tag(words)
namedEnt = ne_chunk(tags)


This prints the parse tree with recognized named entities marked.

Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis refers to determining the attitude of a speaker or a writer with respect to some topic or the overall contextual polarity of a document. It can help understand public opinion from online reviews, tweets, surveys etc.

NLTK provides a VADER sentiment analyzer that has been trained on movie reviews and social media text. We can analyze sentiment of sentences:



from nltk.sentiment.vader import SentimentIntensityAnalyzer

sid = SentimentIntensityAnalyzer()
sentiment = sid.polarity_scores(“This movie was awesome!”)

This would output the positive, negative, neutral and compound sentiment scores between -1 to 1 for the sentence. We can also classify sentences as positive, negative or neutral.

Text Classification with Machine Learning

Text classification involves assigning predefined categories or labels to documents based on their contents. It is a widely used supervised ML technique.

We can use scikit-learn to build text classifiers. The steps are:

  1. Preprocess text data
  2. Extract features (bag-of-words, TF-IDF etc.)
  3. Train classifiers like Naive Bayes, Logistic Regression, SVM, RNN etc.
  4. Evaluate performance on test data.

For example, to classify news articles into categories:



from sklearn.feature_extraction.text import TfidfVectorizer
from sklearn.linear_model import LogisticRegression

vectorizer = TfidfVectorizer()
X = vectorizer.fit_transform(data[‘text’])
y = data[‘category’]

clf = LogisticRegression().fit(X, y)

This trains a logistic regression classifier on TF-IDF features to predict categories.

Topic Modeling with Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA)

Topic modeling is an unsupervised technique to discover abstract “topics” that occur in a collection of documents. LDA is a popular algorithm that models each document as a mixture of various topics.

We can use Gensim library to perform LDA topic modeling in Python. The steps are:

  1. Preprocess and vectorize text data
  2. Create LDA model:



from gensim.models import LdaModel

lda_model = LdaModel(corpus, num_topics=10, id2word=dictionary)

       3.Print topics as sorted word distributions:




This helps understand the hidden thematic structure in document collections. The topics can be used for organizing search results, summarizing document clusters etc.

Word Embeddings with Word2Vec

Word embeddings are dense vector representations of words where similar words have similar vectors. They help generalize to unseen data and solve semantic/syntactic word problems.

Word2Vec is an efficient implementation of neural network based word embeddings. We can train Word2Vec models on large text corpora using Genism:



from gensim.models import Word2Vec 

model = Word2Vec(sentences, min_count=5, vector_size=100)

This trains 100D word vectors on all words with a min count of 5. We can find similar words, analogies etc.:



model.wv.most_similar(positive=[‘woman’, ‘king’], negative=[‘man’])

Pre-trained vectors like Google’s Word2Vec can also be loaded for many languages. Embeddings are useful for applications like machine translation, question answering etc.

Advanced NLP Techniques and Future Trends

Some advanced techniques gaining popularity are –

  • Neural networks for POS tagging, NER, parsing etc. with LSTM, GRU, CNN models.
  • Transformer models like BERT for language modeling, question answering, text classification achieving state-of-the-art results.
  • Contextual word embeddings like ELMo, Flair providing context-sensitive representations.
  • Generative models like GPT, CTRL for text generation.
  • Conversation models for chatbots, digital assistants with sequence-to-sequence models.
  • Multimodal models combining text, images, audio for multimedia understanding.
  • Explainable AI techniques for interpreting NLP models.
  • Lifelong learning systems continuously learning from new data.
  • Transfer learning and multitask learning to generalize across domains/tasks.

The future of NLP lies in building more human-like language understanding, generation capabilities and aligning models with human values and fairness.


In this blog, we discussed some fundamental and widely used NLP techniques that can be easily implemented using Python libraries. We covered basic text preprocessing, POS tagging, NER, sentiment analysis, text classification, topic modeling and word embeddings.

Python provides powerful tools like NLTK, scikit-learn, TensorFlow, spaCy, Gensim and more for building robust NLP systems. With transfer learning and neural models, the state-of-the-art in NLP is advancing at a rapid pace. In the future, we can expect more human-like language abilities in machines. NLP will continue to play a transformative role across many domains.