Have you ever used Google translate for sentences, or worse, an entire paragraph? Maybe what you got out didn’t exactly make sense. Then, did you then send the translation to a native speaker of the language?
If so, then you know that online translators turn blocks of text into complete nonsense. At best, you will get decipherable caveman talk – “he go eat hamburger.” At worse, you will utterly confuse the person you are corresponding with or fail your university language class.
Sentences can’t be translated word for word because the nuances of syntax and grammar must be understood to convey meaning. Online translators don’t have a brain and don’t understand the greater meanings of sentences and paragraphs. Sentences are much more than the sum of their parts, words.
If you do know some basics of the original language, then look for any repeated words and translate them one by one in an online translator. They may key words of your text that can give you a hint about the overall meaning. Go word by word until you get a good idea of what it’s about.
This method will get you by if you just want to get a general notion of what your text is about. Unfortunately if precision is required, then there is no substitution for a professional translation, and it will cost you.