Difference between a `story’ and a `tale’.

Of the two, `story’ is the more general word. A story can be real or fictitious, and it can be written or oral. You can talk about a story that you read in the newspaper, or a story that your grandmother told you as a child. The newspaper story could be true, but the one that your grandmother told you could be made up. A story can be in the form of poetry or prose and it usually, not always, deals with a series of incidents in an individual’s life.

Examples: Listen, give me the facts. I don’t want to hear the story of your life. *After seeing the film, he went around telling the story to everyone.

Unlike a story, a `tale’ is usually fictitious; the word carries with it a sense of exaggeration. Tales, in general, deal with exciting, but imaginary events that took place in ancient times and in far off lands. For example, we talk about the tales of King Arthur and the Round Table.

Source: ‘Know Your English’ (The Hindu) – August 21, 2006.

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