Like all languages, programming languages are used for communication. However, they are not spoken or written; rather they are read by computers that then execute the instructions written in the language.
Programming languages allow humans to communicate with computers in a way that computers can understand. They are written so that humans can write instructions for computers to follow. Without programming languages, computers could not be programmed to do many of the things they do today.
Like most languages, programming languages have different dialects. A dialect is another way of saying “version” of a language. A dialect may be different than another because it has different spelling rules or grammar rules. It may also be different because it is used for doing different things.
Although there are many different programming languages, they all fall into one of three categories: low-level, mid-level, and high-level. The level of the language depends on the amount of detail it requires programmers to specify in order to get their instructions understood by the computer.
Low-level programming languages require programmers to provide the most detail when writing instructions. These languages are sometimes called machine code or assembly code. These languages are used to program the most basic parts of a computer.
Mid-level programming languages are easier to use than low-level programming languages, but more difficult to use than high-level programming languages. These languages are sometimes called assembly language or compilers. Assembly language is compiled into machine code before being run on a computer. Compilers are used for compressing programs so that they run faster on a computer.
High-level programming languages are the easiest to use, but they are also the hardest for computers to understand. These languages are often called structured programming languages. High-level programming languages are usually compiled into machine code or translated into something that is easier for machines to understand before being run on a computer. Most high school students learn one of these high-level programming languages when they take Computer Science in high school. Common high-level programming languages are Java and C++.
Programming languages allow humans to speak directly to computers and to get them to do what we want them to do. Without programming languages, we would not be able to use computers for many things that we use them for today and we would not be able to use many of the other technologies we use today such as mobile phones and tablets.