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Compare Three Types of Translation: Machine Translation, MTPE, Human Translation with CAT Tools

Posted by Anne Q. on March 09, 2021.

There are three main types of translation that produce different outcomes for your documents – machine translation, machine translation post-editing, and human translation (with the help of CAT Tools). Each type mentioned is suitable for specific types of documents. Therefore, your decision on the types of translation to apply will have a great impact on the quality of the translations.

In today’s post, we discuss the pros and cons of the three popular types of translation to help you choose the right one for your upcoming translation projects.

1. Machine Translation

Machine Translation is a tool or software that translates text automatically from one language to another with no human involved during the whole translation process. Some examples of machine translation tools are Google Translate, Bing Translate, or Yandex Translate (Free tools) and DeepL Translator, PROMT, or SYSTRAN Translate (Paid tools).

Types of translation - Machine Translation Tools


      • Quick – Compared to other types of translation, machine translation has a notable advantage of producing the translations almost immediately. You can receive the results after only a few seconds.
      • Easy to operate – All you have to do is to import/paste the documents you need to translate into the tool, choose the language pair, and wait for the translations.
      • Low cost – You can easily find numerous free machine translation tools on the Internet. Some famous names are Google Translate, Linguee, iTranslate, etc. In case you have high volume or frequent projects, purchasing paid machine tools is a cheap solution compared to hiring professional translators. You can try the premium versions of DeepL Translator, PROMT, SYSTRAN Translate, etc.



      • Machine translation lacks understanding of nuance, tone, sarcasm, humour, etc. Thus, the final products are likely to be unnatural and inorganic.
      • Machine translation cannot guarantee a consistent brand voice for your company.
      • In general, the quality of translation is not even. It depends a lot on the complexity of each project.


2. Machine Translation Post-Editing (MTPE)

Machine translation post-editing is the hybrid solution between machine translation and human translation. The process includes two main steps. First, the source documents are translated by machine translation tools. It will be then reviewed and edited by a human professional linguist to eliminate possible mistakes relating to word choices, flow, and culture factors, helping the translation sound smoother and more natural.


      • With the involvement of human linguists in the second step, the quality of the translations can be improved significantly, especially in terms of clarity and flow.
      • Cultural sensitivity is taken into consideration, making sure that your documents are socially acceptable.
      • Compared to traditional translation, this option saves companies a great deal of time and costs.



      • Machine translation post-editing requires a longer turnaround time in comparison to machine translation only.
      • The overall quality of the final products relies heavily on the quality of the first step – machine translation. If the output of the Machine Translation step is bad, there is a high chance that the final translation still contains some imperfections as the post-editors cannot cover all the issues from the previous step. Or if they can, it takes a much longer time and the pros of “quicker turn-around time” is no longer valid.


3. Human Translation with CAT Tools

Computer-Assisted Translation (or CAT) is software designed for translators, and used throughout the translating process. Human translators take charge of translating, reviewing, and proofreading on the platform of CAT Tools. The aim of CAT tools is only to help translators improve their productivity and the quality of translations, not to take over translators’ jobs.

Types of translation - CAT Tools


      • Human translators understand the context, social norms, and writing styles of the source files. Therefore, the quality of translations is guaranteed as long as you work with professional experienced translators.
      • The CAT Tools’ Translation Memory and Termbase features restore the previous translations, helping translators work much faster while guaranteeing the consistency of the translations and saving your cost.
      • The bilingual format of CAT tools allows translators to compare the source and target versions at the same time, contributing to the higher performance of translators.



      • Paying for human translators is generally much higher compared to the other types of translation (machine translation or machine translation post-editing). Also, you may need some extra cost for the CAT tool license.
      • The turn-around time is longer because the capacity of a translator is limited. If you use too many translators at the same time in a project, inconsistency risk may prevail.


4. What Types of Translation Should You Use?

Machine Translation should only be used for internal communication materials, low-priority messages or for basic comprehension of a document such as reference materials or articles from the Internet.

Machine Translation Post-editing products can be used for public-facing documents as the content is reviewed by a professional linguist who pays attention to culturally sensitive aspects and terminologies to guarantee overall accuracy and consistency.

Compared to the other types of translation, human translation and CAT Tools bring the highest level of accuracy. If you need better quality translations for your blog posts, packaging inserts or creative content namely slogans, headlines, brand names, etc. machine translation and post-editing steps cannot guarantee excellent income. Using 100% of human translators with the help of CAT Tools comes highly recommended if you want a ready-to-publish document.

Whether you need machine translation, MTPE or human translation with the help of CAT Tools, with a team of experienced native translators, GTE Localize guarantees to bring you accurate and quality translations in a wide range of Asian languages. Contact us for a free consultancy.