The 10 Easiest Programming Languages to Learn Right Now

You can master them in next to no time.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Illustration of woman at her desk working in front of two computer screens

Did you know that the first programming language was developed in 1883 by English mathematician Ada Lovelace? Ada worked on inventor Charles Babbage’s steam-powered computer, called the Analytical Engine, writing mathematical problems for it to solve.

Today, although programming is primarily associated with personal computers and websites by many, code is used abundantly: in washing machines, traffic lights, elevators, coffee machines and all sorts of gadgets and engines that make our lives easier.

If you’re interested in learning how to program, either to make a career out of it or to expand your skill set, read on: these are the 10 most beginner-friendly programming languages out there.

Why should you learn to code?

Though it’s common to see the words “coding” and “programming” used interchangeably, they are not identical. As computer scientist Leslie Lamport puts it: “Coding is to programming as typing is to writing.” For the sake of conversation, however, let’s keep things a little less technical!

Learning to code can benefit you in multiple ways, even if you’re not actively seeking to pursue a career in STEM. It enables you to:

  • Enhance your skill set and employability
  • Work on your own personal projects
  • Improve your critical thinking and problem-solving ability
  • Understand existing and emerging technologies better
  • Streamline and automate your work processes

How to decide which programming language to learn

Choosing your first programming language as a beginner won’t always be straightforward. To make an informed decision, consider:

  • What resources are available to you. As a beginner, you’re better off picking a language that’s popular enough to have courses, books and online forums dedicated to it.
  • Where your interests lie. Different programming languages have different uses; are you passionate about AI, gaming, web development, or something else?
  • Why you’re doing it and what your career goals are. A data analyst won’t be required to hold the same knowledge as a software developer, for example.
  • Which programming languages are likelier to wane in popularity in coming years.
  • If you intend on learning more programming languages down the line. If yes, you may want to pick ones that are similar to one another.

The 10 easiest programming languages to learn

What’s easy and what’s not is subjective. Some programming languages, however, have a reputation for being a little kinder to learners than others. Let’s look at them!


HyperText Markup Language, or HTML, was created in 1993 by Tim Berners-Lee. Though it’s on our list, it’s not a programming language (as in it’s not used to create software applications), but rather a markup language, meaning it’s used to structure and format content on webpages.

In simple terms, HTML tells your browser how to display web pages.

The markup language is considered very beginner-friendly, as the average learner is normally able to learn the basics and grasp how it works within a few weeks.

2. CSS

Like HTML, CSS was invented in the ’90s (1996, to be exact) and it’s not a programming language. Unlike HTML, though, it’s not a markup language either. CSS can be described as a style sheet language (its name stands for “cascading style sheets”), meaning it’s used to style the elements defined by the markup.

HTML and CSS are used together to make static websites. As such, a lot of the time, they’re learned together. CSS takes longer to master, however; the average learner will need a few months of regular practice to feel comfortable using the language.

3. Python

Here we have the first actual programming language on our list: Python! It was made by Dutch programmer Guido van Rossum in the late ’80s and has since been used extensively in website and software creation, task automation, and data analysis.

Being a general-purpose programming language, Python is very popular: globally, nearly 45% of developers use it, according to a Developer Nation Pulse report.

Python is also widely seen as a fairly straightforward programming language to learn. Some even view it as the best “first language” to master!

4. JavaScript

JavaScript, often abbreviated as JS, is a scripting language that allows for the creation of dynamic, interactive websites. It was invented by Brendan Eich in 1995.

While HTML provides the basic structure of a webpage and CSS controls the presentation of it, JavaScript can be used to determine the behavior of different elements. Some common uses for it include pop-ups, such as age verification boxes, and special effects, such as animations.

In terms of difficulty, JavaScript is also considered easy to learn — or, as one Reddit user describes it on the learnprogramming subreddit: “It’s pretty forgiving”.

5. SQL

SQL, which stands for “structured query language”, was developed at IBM by Donald D Chamberlin and Raymond F Boyce in the early ’70s. In contrast with general-purpose languages such as Python, SQL is a domain-specific language, meaning it has specialized features for a particular domain: relational databases, in this case.

In simple terms, SQL allows you to store, retrieve and manipulate data. Numerous career paths make use of the language, including that of business analysts, data scientists, software engineers and database administrators.

6. PHP

PHP is an open-source, general-purpose scripting language that’s widely used to create dynamic websites and applications. Its development began in 1993 by Rasmus Lerdorf.

Thanks to its relatively simple syntax, PHP is considered beginner-friendly and easier to learn (though not necessarily to master) than other web development languages.

Though it’s currently considered a shrinking language, many companies and platforms use PHP in their computing infrastructure, including Facebook, Slack, Tumblr, MailChimp, Etsy and WordPress — and so it’s not expected to go away any time soon.

7. Ruby

Ruby is considered by many one of the easiest programming languages to learn. The open-source language first appeared in 1995, and has since become one of the most popular languages for developing web applications.

Ruby is an object-oriented programming language, meaning it “organizes software design around data, or objects, rather than functions and logic,” as technical writer Alexander S Gillis explains. “OOP focuses on the objects that developers want to manipulate rather than the logic required to manipulate them.”

This user-friendly approach can have its downsides, however: it can be hard to move on to other languages afterwards, as Ruby can feel like such a treat!

8. Java

For anyone who doesn’t know, Java and JavaScript are two distinct languages. Where JS is used for building dynamic websites, Java is a general-purpose programming language used to create a variety of software applications. It was developed by James Gosling and released in 1995.

The programming language offers excellent versatility: it can be used in web and software development, cloud-based applications, machine learning, game development, and more.

Though not generally regarded as one of the easiest languages to learn, it’s still considered fairly easy to grasp; you might just need a bit more practice and guidance from fellow coders.

9. Swift

Swift was developed by Apple and first released in 2014. It’s used extensively for creating iOS applications for devices like the iPhone and iPad, but it is cross-platform and can also be used to write code on Linux and Windows operating systems.

Though it’s been around for far fewer years compared to other entries on our list, Swift quickly became one of the most popular languages used today.

The open-source programming language has a clean syntax and is considered fairly easy to learn. Thanks to the ample tutorials available online, learners don’t need prior experience with coding languages to pick up Swift.

10. C

Okay, we confess — C is not considered an easy programming language to learn by many. Some people will tell you that it is, and some will tell you that it’s not; but it’s on this list for a good reason.

Unlike Python, Ruby, JS and countless other languages, which are high-level programming languages, C is labelled a mid-level, high-performance language. This means that its syntax is less similar to that of the English language, which makes it less straightforward to read. (For humans, at least; not machines!)

Having said that, committing to learning C first can make your life just a little bit easier down the line, as many other languages borrow from its syntax. If your plan is to make a career out of programming, C may very well be worth the initial tears of frustration as you can then pick up other languages faster.

Final thoughts

There we have it: a list of popular programming languages that are generally considered beginner-friendly!

Though nailing down the basics can come relatively quickly, mastering a programming language can take a long time. Luckily, there are numerous online tutorials, courses and coding bootcamps you can make use of from the comfort of your own living room to reach your goals and take your personal projects or career to the next level.

Have you attempted to learn a programming language before? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments section below!

Originally published on August 28, 2019.