What is Lemmatization in NLP?
Updated on 21st Nov, 23 9K Views

Discover Lemmatization in NLP: Exploring its role in extracting word roots for improved language analysis. This guide covers real-world applications, code samples, advantages, disadvantages, and distinctions from stemming, providing a full grasp of its importance in NLP.

Table of Contents:

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What is Stemming in NLP?

In natural language processing (NLP), stemming is a text normalization technique that involves reducing words to their base or root form by removing suffixes. The goal of stemming is to simplify words to their common linguistic root, so variations of a word, such as plurals or verb conjugations, are treated as the same word. For example, the stemming process would reduce “running” and “runner” to the common root “run.” This helps in standardizing and consolidating similar words, reducing the dimensionality of the data, and improving the efficiency of text analysis tasks, such as information retrieval, sentiment analysis, and document clustering.

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What is Lemmatization in NLP?

Lemmatization, in Natural Language Processing (NLP), is a linguistic process used to reduce words to their base or canonical form, known as the lemma. 

Unlike stemming, which clumsily chops off affixes, lemmatization considers the word’s context and part of speech, delivering the true root word.

It improves text analysis accuracy and involves converting inflected words to their dictionary forms in order to normalize variations. 

Lemmatization helps with tasks like text mining, sentiment analysis, and machine learning by taking word variants into account and identifying the base form.

By improving language understanding in NLP, this technique helps systems understand the complex meanings of words in various settings, leading to more accurate information retrieval and analysis.

Difference Between Lemmatization and Stemming in NLP

The table below summarizes the primary differences between stemming and lemmatization, highlighting their distinct characteristics and use cases in NLP. 

Key AspectLemmatizationStemming
GoalConverting words to their base or dictionary forms (lemmas), considering vocabulary and morphological analysisReducing words to their word stems and frequently removing affixes using heuristic algorithms
Resulting OutputGenerates the actual root word that is linguistically correct and found in the dictionaryMay produce an intermediate or approximate root form, not necessarily a proper word
PrecisionMore precisely, ensuring correct words or lemmasLess precise, resulting in potential non-words or incorrect stems
Process ComplexityMore complex, involves dictionary lookup and part-of-speech tagging, hence slower and resource-intensiveSimple and faster processing with minimal computational requirements
Resource DependencyHeavily relies on extensive language resources such as dictionaries and lexical knowledgeTypically requires less resource dependency
ApplicationIdeal for applications requiring higher precision and contextual understanding, sacrificing speedSuitable for applications where speed is crucial and less precision is acceptable

Code for Lemmatization in NLP

This Python code uses the NLTK library to perform lemmatization. It tokenizes the input text, initializes the WordNetLemmatizer, and then lemmatizes each word in the text. Finally, it prints the lemmatized text.

Make sure you have NLTK installed and have downloaded the necessary resources (like ‘wordnet’) using nltk.download(‘wordnet’).

Step 1: Importing Libraries: Import the necessary NLTK modules, including the WordNetLemmatizer and word_tokenize, for lemmatization.

Step 2: Download WordNet: Ensure WordNet, a lexical database used for lemmatization, is downloaded using nltk.download(‘wordnet’).

Step 3: Sample Text for Lemmatization: Provide a sample text to be lemmatized.

Step 4: Tokenizing the Text into Words: Break the input text into individual words (tokens) using NLTK’s word_tokenize function.

Step 5: Initializing the WordNetLemmatizer: Create an instance of the WordNetLemmatizer for lemmatization.

Step 6: Lemmatizing the Words: Apply lemmatization to each word in the tokenized text using a list comprehension.

Step 7: Joining the Lemmatized Words Back into a Sentence: Reassemble the lemmatized words into a coherent sentence.

Step 8: Printing the Original and Lemmatized Text: Display the original and lemmatized versions of the text for comparison.

#importing libraries
import nltk
from nltk.stem import WordNetLemmatizer
from nltk.tokenize import word_tokenize
# Download WordNet
# Sample text for lemmatization
text = "Hii, welcome to the Intellipaat's blog on Lemmatization in NLP"
# Tokenizing the text into words
tokens = word_tokenize(text)
# Initializing the WordNetLemmatizer
lemmatizer = WordNetLemmatizer()
# Lemmatizing the words
lemmatized_words = [lemmatizer.lemmatize(word) for word in tokens]
# Joining the lemmatized words back into a sentence
lemmatized_text = ' '.join(lemmatized_words)
# Print the original text and the lemmatized text
print("Original Text: ", text)
print("Lemmatized Text: ", lemmatized_text)


Original Text:  Hii, welcome to the Intellipaat’s Blog on Lemmatization in NLP

Lemmatized Text:  Hii , welcome to the Intellipaat ‘s Blog on Lemmatization in NLP

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Example of Lemmatization

Lemmatization is a crucial step in natural language processing that simplifies words to their base or root form. Consider the sentence: “The quick brown foxes are jumping over the lazy dogs.” Through lemmatization, each word is transformed into its base form. For instance, “jumping” becomes “jump,” and “foxes” becomes “fox.” This process ensures that different grammatical variations of a word are unified, providing a cleaner and more standardized representation of the text. Lemmatization is particularly beneficial in tasks like text analysis, information retrieval, and sentiment analysis, where reducing words to their essential forms enhances the accuracy and efficiency of language processing algorithms.

Real-World Applications of Lemmatization 

Lemmatization is a crucial component of Natural Language Processing (NLP) that improves context analysis and language interpretation. Lemmatization is used by GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) models, such as GPT-3, to guarantee a more thorough understanding of linguistic complexities. GPT can identify and correlate semantically related concepts more accurately by breaking down words into their most basic forms, which assists in reducing problems caused by a variety of word forms. This helps provide responses that are both logical and appropriate for the given setting. GPT’s usage of lemmatization enhances communication and natural language understanding in a variety of applications by promoting more accurate language representation in chatbots, language translation, and content creation.

Real-World Applications of Lemmatization 

Real-world implementations of lemmatization in NLP span across various applications and industries. These real-world implementations showcase the importance of lemmatization in enhancing NLP applications across diverse fields. Some examples include: 

  • Search Engines: Lemmatization is a technique used by search engines to improve the precision of search results by reducing word forms to their most basic forms and guaranteeing complete retrieval of relevant information.
  • Sentiment Analysis: By normalizing words, lemmatization enhances the accuracy of sentiment classification by assisting in the understanding of the context and sentiment of texts.
  • Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: Lemmatization reduces words to their most basic forms, which makes it easier for chatbots and virtual assistants to understand and reply to user queries. This helps them to understand a wider range of linguistic expressions.
  • Language Translation: Lemmatization helps machine translation systems translate words into their basic forms so that the translations are more precise and suitable for the target context.
  • Information Extraction: To precisely identify and handle entity references within texts, lemmatization is used in information extraction tasks like named entity recognition and extraction.
  • Content Recommendation Systems: Lemmatization helps content recommendation systems provide more accurate and relevant suggestions based on user behaviors and preferences by normalizing language.
  • Document Classification: Lemmatization helps standardize words in document categorization or classification systems so that documents are classified into categories more accurately.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Lemmatization in NLP

Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of lemmatization helps in selecting how best to use and integrate it into NLP systems while taking accuracy and computing costs into account.

Certainly, the following are the benefits and drawbacks of lemmatization in NLP:


  • Increased Accuracy: By supplying the true root word, lemmatization improves accuracy over stemming and facilitates more sophisticated language comprehension and analysis.
  • Context Preservation: By returning words to their root forms in accordance with their intended meaning within a sentence, it preserves the context and meaning of those words.
  • Enhanced Text Normalization: Lemmatization reduces variances and improves text analysis and information retrieval precision by normalizing words to their dictionary form.
  • Improved Search Engine Results: It increases search relevancy by clustering words with similar meanings together to produce better search results.


  • Computational Complexity: Compared to stemming, lemmatization requires access to dictionary resources and part-of-speech tagging, which can lead to longer processing times and higher resource consumption.
  • Loss of Speed: Lemmatization takes longer than stemming, which could be a drawback in situations where processing in real-time is essential.
  • Dependency on Language Resources: Lemmatization is highly dependent on lexical databases and dictionaries, which may not be able to cover all complexities or specialized terminology in the language.
  • Over-Lemmatization: There’s a chance that over-normalization could cause some words to become too generalized and lose their unique meaning, which could affect text analysis or sentiment classification accuracy.

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Lemmatization in NLP serves as a linguistic tool for deriving a word’s base form, enhancing accuracy in language analysis and information retrieval. By preserving contextual meaning and providing actual words, it offers superior precision compared to stemming and, thus, is crucial for various text-based applications. Yes,  its drawbacks encompass computational complexity and resource dependence, but its advantages lie in maintaining context, enhancing accuracy, and refining language comprehension.

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