Never Confuse History and Story Again! (RealLife TV)

One of the most common and easy to correct mistakes that many English learners make, even advanced speakers, is to confuse the words HISTORY and STORY. This is a small but important mistake that most people don’t know they are making.

One important reason why people make this mistake is that it’s often the same word in many languages around the world (Spanish and Portuguese to name a few). Today’s quick 2 minute video lesson is going to teach you exactly when to use HISTORY, when to use STORY, and when they are interchangeable. Have fun!


Hey RealLife Community, welcome to another episode of RealLife TV.

Today we're going to discuss the real difference between story and history, so stay tuned.

As many of you know, the words story and history are the same word in many language. So, in English, there are actually two different words.

So, today I'm going to explain a little bit about the real difference and where these words overlap, or where they are the same.

So, let me introduce this Venn diagram here. This will help us really understand, it really helped me.

What's the difference?

So, history is uncountable, while story is countable. So, a history is more factual, is non-fiction, is academic. It really happened, whereas a story is more imaginary, it's fiction, it's narrative.

  • History: uncountable, more factual, non-fiction, academic, it really happened.
  • Story: Imaginary, fiction, narrative, it often didn't really happen. 

When are they the same?

But there are moments where history, which is not countable, and story, which is countable, actually can be the same thing, and this is when there are anecdotes, anecdotes or biographies, documentaries, or historical movies.

Examples of History and Story

So let's go into a few examples of this.

So, let me give you a couple of examples of history. So, history is when slavery was abolished, it's when the men walked on the moon, it's when Australia was discovered by Captain Cook.

HistoryStoryThumbExamples of History:

  • When slavery was abolished
  • The man walked on the moon
  • Australia was discovered by Captain Cook

And a story is like Romeo and Juliet, the Alchemist is a great story. Avatar. So, these arestories because they never really happened, and the other ones are history because they did happen.

Examples of Story:

  • Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare play)
  • The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho book)
  • Avatar (movie directed by James Cameron)

And now, some examples of both history and story. Titanic is an example of this. Titanic is a part of history but it's also a story. Also, we have the Albert Einstein biography, this is history and it's a story.

Examples of BOTH Story and History:

  • Titanic (movie AND historical event)
  • Albert Einstein Biography (biography narrative AND historical person)

So, there you have it, the difference between history and story. They're not always different, but history is generally more factual and story is more imaginary.

I hope you guys enjoyed today's lesson of RealLife TV. If you haven't subscribed yet, please subscribe, check out the transcript in the article in our website. Take care!

  • Rawda Essam Hejazy says:

    Another fantastic lesson!! I’m more interested in reading historical books than fictions stories…
    Thanks a lot Justin..

  • Ron Thacker says:

    I’m having trouble with the Spanish word “historia”. When does it mean story and when does it mean history?

    • Elizabeth Anel says:

      it mean the same in both, but I hope that you know that for now

    • yeferson muñoz says:

      in spanish we use “cuento” and “historia” cuento is like story!!!

      • Justin says:

        Thanks for the tip Yeferson!

  • Charles Schneider Pereira says:

    Actually, in portuguese (brazilian) History = História and Story = Estória.

    • Edilene says:

      Very nice, it’s like that.

  • John says:

    What if you want to describe past personal events to someone else? What is the correct one? It’s a long story? or It’s a long history?

    Thank you

  • Carlos says:

    Thank you very much for helping me. Good staff.

  • Carmen A. Ferreras says:

    excellent explanation

  • Success says:

    Nice one. Am helped today.

  • ajibu says:

    Putout their breif differences

  • Ronny says:

    Hey thanks, all it was clearly helpful

  • Lizzy ekwe says:

    The learning was good able to understand perfectly fine

  • Tway says:

    Wow Thx

  • Blen Daniel says:

    That’s awesome definition

  • Valère Balogoun says:

    Am very happy and interested.

  • Maitreyee says:

    This was a poor comparison and explanation sorry to say. Superficial and then arrogant in its superficiality. It is difficult to know what really happened ..ever !

    • Agnieszka from RealLife English says:

      Thank you for your feedback!

  • Madhavi says:

    Actually you are wrong because story means the event can be fictional or real its not completely imaginary

    • Agnieszka from RealLife English says:

      Hey Madhavi! That is right! Where do you think we made a mistake?