Stop words

Updated: 02/07/2022 by Computer Hope
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Stop words are commonly used words excluded from searches to help index and parse web pages faster. While most Internet search engines and NLP (natural language processing) utilize stop words, they do not prevent users from using them. Instead, the words are only ignored when the search results are displayed.

For example, if you search for "What is a motherboard?" on Computer Hope, the search engine only looks for the term "motherboard." For examples of stop words, see the examples of common stop words section.

Examples of common stop words

  • a
  • an
  • and
  • but
  • how
  • in
  • on
  • or
  • the
  • what
  • will

What words are not stop words?

Generally speaking, most stop words are function (filler) words, which are words with little or no meaning that help form a sentence. Content words like adjectives, nouns, and verbs are often not considered stop words. However, a programmer may choose to add common words. For example, Computer Hope may consider "computer" a stop word because it could describe any computer-related product (e.g., computer motherboard, computer video card, etc.).

Basic list of stop words

There's no universal list of stop words that every company or programmer uses. However, as an example, below is a list of stop words often used.

a about above across after afterwards again against all almost alone along also although always am among amount an and another any anyhow anyone anything anyway anywhere are around as at back be became because become becomes been being below beside besides between beyond both but by came can cant cannot come could couldnt describe did didnt do does doesnt doing done dont due during each either else elsewhere enough etc even ever every everyone everything everywhere few for from further get give goes going had happen has hasnt have having here how however i if ill im in into is isnt it its ive just keep let like made make many may me mean might mine more most mostly much name next no nobody not nothing now of once only onto or other others otherwise our over per perhaps please put rather re really same say see seem seemed seeming seems several should show side since so some somehow someone something sometime sometimes somewhere still such take tell than that the then their them then there these they thing this those through throughout to together too try un up upon us use used uses very want was way we well were what whatever when where wherever whether which who whoever whole whom whose why will with within without wont would you your youre yours yourself

Problems that may happen with stop words

Like most solutions, using stop words is not perfect and can introduce any of the following situations.

  • Removing stop words that are part of a product, company, or another name. For example, removing "really" from "really simple syndication" and becoming an invalid search for really simple syndication.
  • Not removing stop words that are plural or have punctuation. For example, not removing "whats" or "what's."
  • Removing a stop word that's part of a misspelled word. For example, a search for "re ply" removing "re" as a stop word.
  • Not removing a stop word because it is misspelled. For example, "wat is stop" becoming "wat stop" because "what" was misspelled.

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