Is PHP a high-level programming language?

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Yes, PHP can be considered a high-level programming language. It sure does meet the criteria to be classified as such. To understand why PHP is viewed as a high-level programming language, a little background insight could help.
Scripting languages like PHP are considered high level as they are more understandable to humans than the computer. PHP might be a programming language, but it’s not in the conventional language – zeros and ones – that the computer finds convenient. Rather, high-level programming languages like PHP make creating computer programs easier for humans.

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PHP being a high-level programming language isn’t a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s good for programmers. Since high-level programming languages like PHP eliminate some input by the computer, programmers find them a lot easier to work with.

The great thing about PHP as a high-level programming language is the flexibility offered. Programmers aren’t restricted by class, data types, and all sorts that create gridlocks when writing a program.

The sort of input attached to PHP is a lot less demanding compared to those seen on the low-level programming languages. This explains the popularity of high-level programming languages among programmers – no one wants extra work when they can avoid it.

Though PHP and many other programming languages are loosely regarded as high-level programming languages, there are subdivisions within this category. And these subdivisions are based on the approach taken by the distinct programming languages. Different programming languages have a unique style they use, and this defines the category they’re placed in. For instance, there’s the imperative type that’s uncomplicated yet limited in its problem-solving capacity.

Is PHP a high-level programming language
Is PHP a high-level programming language

High-Level Programming Language Examples

There are different high-level programming languages such as Fortran, PHP, Java, C+, and a host of others. High-level programming languages are more pliable in operation as they are not rigid in application. Programmers are not constrained to specific programming routes such as the registers and others that make the process highly ambiguous.

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Frankly, high-level programming languages aren’t given any preferential treatment in their interaction with the computer, but they have a workaholic go-between to whom the dirty work of ensuring codes run effortlessly regardless of the system type. The go-between, in this case, is the interpreter. If a programmer is to get anything done, he has to issue a string of commands to the computer using the programming language. With high-level programming languages such as Fortran, PHP, Java, and others, communing with the computer is delineated to the interpreter, making it easy for the skilled personnel to work more efficiently in creating programs that solve real-world problems.

Each high-level programming language has its nuances, making the language different from others. Though they reduce the burden of creating programs, they tend to take different paths to arrive at the same destination. For instance, using a PHP programming language, the end file is renamed to the .PHP format. This is only applicable to the PHP programming language; others have their distinct attributes as well. 

Most programming languages are considered high-level as they’re built for ease of utilization for programmers. Though assembly language isn’t high-level, some programmers don’t have a problem working with such a language despite its abstract nature.

The bottom line is that there are multitudes of high-level programming languages. And most remove the hard work from programming as programmers don’t have to be bothered with assigning different memories some values. 

Low-Level Programming Language

Though computer programs are written in high-level programming languages, these aren’t the language the computer understands. A computer’s ‘native tongue’ is the low-level language, often a collection of ones and zeros, containing instructions that the computer proceeds to execute. 

The machine language, as it’s popularly called, isn’t common among today’s programmers. It might be understandable to the computer, but it’s ambiguous to learn and not convenient to use. 

Yes, previous inventors made it a point of duty to get acquainted with low-level programming languages, but times have indeed changed. Previously, the best to debug was to go through the codes in the machine language to confirm what input the computer is working with; it’s a painstaking process that’s often riddled with errors it’s supposed to eliminate.

Low-level programming languages can be navigated easily on basic programs with little to no use case. But take it up a notch, and it becomes quite cumbersome to handle. This isn’t surprising when you consider the interplay of figures – binary, octal or similar – in this machine language. 

To get around the challenges linked to working on machine language – cumbersome and time-consuming – another low-level language, the assembly language, was created. On assembly language, it’s not just a hapless collection of numbers; codes are stringed to components, making it less confusing to create efficient programs.

An assembler translates assembly language into its machine counterpart, which makes it possible for the computer to take the desired action. Despite the usefulness of the assembly language, its cozy status with the machine language isn’t convenient for the average programmer. The elevated status of the assembly language doesn’t equate to better practicability as it is still short of what’s possible using high-level programming languages. This led to the high-level programming languages we have today. 

Low-Level Programming Language Examples

Unlike their high-level counterpart with diverse examples, low-level programming languages aren’t in abundant supply. Of course, the machine language that the computer understands and the assembly language are the only types of low-level programming languages. 

Some stakeholders claim certain high-level programming languages belong in the low-level category, but this isn’t exactly true. While some of these supposedly low-level programming languages like C, COBOL, and a few others have certain attributes similar to the machine language and assembly type, they’re still above the low-level group. For instance, C is often placed into this category because it uses terms peculiar to assembly language while accessing memory registers. 

Among low-level programming languages, there’s a hierarchy. At the bottom of the group is the machine language. The computer’s ‘mother tongue’ is the machine language. It forms the basis of the computer’s operating system. This programming language is loaded with ‘ones’ and ‘zeros’ which are the end product of a pilling source code using the exact details of a processor. Programmers often stumble while working with this programming language despite their cozy relationship with computer programs. 

Just a notch higher than the machine language is the assembly language. It’s not so far off the machine variant as some proper understanding of the machine language modus operandi is required to write assembly language codes. 

The distinction between machine language and its high-level counterparts is that while the former works with the processor type of the specific computer, the latter can be achieved regardless of the processor type. 

Though an assembly language isn’t the same as a machine language, it can easily be transformed into the latter with the aid of a machine known as an assembler. You can tell assembly language, and machine language aren’t so far apart from the presence of basic commands such as ADD, SUB, and others that execute the simplest of operations.  

Is Python a high-level language?

Yes, Python is indeed a high-level programming language. It has no similarities to the machine language the computer understands – no ‘zeros’ and ‘ones’ in this programming language. 

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Since the coding of Python consists of commands unrecognizable to the computer, it has to be interpreted into something the computer understands. Typically, Python uses its compiler – an assembly language-dependent program – to convert the readable Python codes into the computer-friendly machine language.

Python is an easy to work with type of programming language. It doesn’t bore you with the intricate detail that’s common with low-level programming languages. Using Python, a developer need not worry about navigating the onerous task of memory management or how bytes are assigned. 

The high-level programming language status of Python is mostly due to its use of distinct attributes and techniques to allow for the addition of human language. To make it clear, high-level programming language and low-level programming language are two extremes; the closer a language is to the machine language, the more likely it’s considered low-level.

Since Python is a high-level programming language, it has to be brought down to the level of the computer via interpretation. That’s transforming the human-friendly codes into ones and zeros, so it’s executable by the computer. 

Python is a high-level programming language that can be acted upon by different processors due to the vital role played by the interpreter, so it can’t be considered a low-level programming language as those are processor-specific. 

Another reason why Python is considered a high-level programming language is its accompanying features such as sequences, multidimensional operators, and more. You can’t find such in low-level programming languages. The presence of complex constructs puts Python in the mix of high-level programming languages. 

Types of High-Level Programming Language

Since high-level programming languages are created based on certain specifications, it’s no surprise to have different types of this programming language category. Here, we intend to look at the different types of high-level programming language.

Human convenience remains the driving force for the creation of high-level programming languages. Thus, these languages are created to be more human-friendly than anything else. Some of the types of high-level programming languages include:






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The make-up of each of these languages differ, and it’s reflected in their purpose. There are those deployed towards the development of web apps and their counterpart in the software department. Yet, the middle ground is that they have to be transformed into ones and zeros before being executed by the computer. This brings up another attribute that separates the different high-level programming languages – the compiler/interpreter. 

While some of these programming languages get translated into codes that are executed by the computer through the input of a compiler, others depend on an interpreter to make this happen.

For programs created using certain programming languages like C++, a compilation is required before the codes are executed. The compiler strings together the codes so they can be executed by the computer. 

For other high-level programming languages like PHP, the source code is interpreted from its high-level status to the computer-executable low-level variant. No matter the go-between involved – compiler or interpreter – this is more of a ‘several ways to bell a cat’ than anything else. 

The type of high-level programming language doesn’t count when it comes to interacting with the computer’s processor. This explains why converting programs written in these high-level programming languages into their low-level counterpart is necessary. 

Is C a High-Level Language?

Yes, C is a high-level programming language. While there are loud arguments putting C in the low-level programming language category, this isn’t the case. This programming language requires a compiler to translate its source code to the machine language, which is an indication of where C’s allegiance lies. 

No doubt, C has traces of assembly language lines in it, so there’s that misconception that it’s of low-level stock. But it’s not. The fact remains that the boundaries for high-level programming languages are quite flexible, and there’s a hierarchy here as well. Of course, C isn’t at the top of the chain, but it’s a member of the group.

C might lack the sort of sophistication seen in supposedly high-level programming languages, but its ‘open-mindedness’ gives it an edge whenever flexibility and simplicity are required.

Many programmers feel the undoing of C is its lack of special functions, operators, and all whatnot, but that’s its greatest strength. Since the programming language appears totally ‘barefaced’ it can be deployed anywhere and just as you want it. The absence of specialization works in its favor.

Working with C might not be everyone’s favorite cup of coffee, but it’s quite the powerhouse. The performance prowess of the high-level programming language is legendary, but it’s not as quick-footed as some other high-level programming languages. 

C’s popularity is linked to its rebellious nature. The programming language’s dearth of specialized tools doesn’t fit the whims of a programming world looking for the easy way out, no matter the performance pitfalls that might occur later. 

In a nutshell, C is a high-level programming language that delivers results. It’s unambiguous, packed with a handful of features with a standard library to spice things up. 

High-Level Language VS Low-Level Language

Though they’re all programming languages, high-level and low-level programming languages are at extreme ends of the divide. While the low-level programming language can be appreciated by the computer and implemented, the high-level category is more human-inclined. This works out in the formation of a dichotomy. 

Closing the gap between the two extremes, there’s a compiler or interpreter for the job. This makes it possible to convert high-level programming languages into low-level languages understood by the computer. 

Low-level language is machine-friendly as the computer understands the programming language in this category. This is the reverse for high-level programming languages as they’re not executable by the computer architecture until they’re interpreted or compiled.

Debugging is another area that distinguishes both programming language categories. While high-level programming languages are easier to debug, it’s a more intricate exercise to debug low-level programming language. 

High-level programming languages don’t depend on computer architecture. Once compiled or interpreted, these languages can be executed by any computer. The low-level language is largely dependent on the computer as it’s made for a specific processor.

Another area that highlights how different high-level programming languages and their low-level counterparts are so different is the use case. The former is the chosen one for creating programs as not every programmer understands the machine language. 

Maintenance culture is another factor used to separate both programming language categories. With high-level programming languages, you worry less about maintenance as it’s easy to achieve. The low-level programming language is much more difficult to maintain as there’s a lot that needs to be done. 

Memory efficiency is another area where the high-level programming language falters as they tend to grapple in the dark on maximizing the use of memory. It’s a different situation with the low-level languages as they are quite efficient in memory utilization.


Putting a programming language takes into consideration its connection to the machine language as how easy it’s to work with for humans. 

While there are no strict criteria for grouping these programming languages into categories, most programs fall into the high-level category, leaving the machine language and its assembly language companion in the low-level programming language category. 

High-level and low-level programming language have their uses. The former takes away the chore from building computer programs as you don’t have to create them in ones and zeros. The low-level programming language is understood by the computer, so it’s the language of getting things done.

Luis Gillman
Luis Gillman

Hi, I Am Luis Gillman CA (SA), ACMA
I am a Chartered Accountant (SA) and CIMA (SA) and author of Due Diligence: A strategic and Financial Approach.

The book was published by Lexis Nexis on 2001. In 2010, I wrote the second edition. Much of this website is derived from these two books.

In addition I have published an article entitled the Link Between Due Diligence and Valautions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.