A programming language is a formal set of rules along with a unique syntax for instructing a computer to perform tasks. Developers use the term to refer to high-level programming languages.
Machine code is a low-level programming language used for directly controlling the central processing unit (CPU) in a computer. Machine code uses binary digits or bits that a computer reads and interprets. Bits are a series of 1s and 0s. For example, a developer using machine code would write 01000000 to start a program. Machine code is the only language a computer understands.
While it's possible to write programs in machine code, developers use high-level programming languages that abstract away the details of machine code to simplify computer programming. The high-level languages are human-readable that translate (or compile) into machine code.
For a program to run, instructions must be written into machine language. Developers use programming languages that directly translate into machine code. Languages like English, Hindi, and German don't directly translate into machine code.
Each programming language is built with a certain purpose in mind. For example, developers who want to write quick scripts that scrape the web might use Python. When you're deciding what programming languages to learn, you should think about what you want to accomplish with the languages.
You can't, nor should you, learn hundreds or thousands of programming languages. Like spoken language, most developers know only a few languages. You only need to know the few languages that enable you to develop the programs you want to build. You can check out PYPL for a list of the most popular programming languages each month.
Syntax highlighting describes when pieces of code are colored or bolded based on the language it’s written in.