Difference Between Fable and Folktale


Main Difference

Fairy tales are an important part of any culture, stories that have been told for centuries, help people get to know their roots and inspire them with the aid of easy to understand lessons. Every area has their own fairy tales which can be categorized into different types which are fables, folktales, myth, and legends. The two main types which confuse people a lot are fables and folktales since they are considered similar. In fact, there are vast differences between the two which will be discussed in the following topic. To explain in simple words, the fable is a story which conveys a lesson to others while folktale is a traditional story of a given area. They can be differentiated in a way that fables have animals used as characters while folktales always have people being a part of the tale. Another distinction of the fable is that all the animals play the roles of human beings while animals do not take any role in folktales. One difference which will help in understanding what both of them come from is that Fables are stories that are created by people which are never true. Folktales, on the other hand, are stories that have been passed onto generations and with few exceptions have stayed the same over years. They may or may not be true but usually are considered authentic. In fables, there is only one problem that is being solved throughout the story while folktales there can be multiple issues being discussed. Another difference between them is that there is always a moral lesson in a fable but in folktales there is no certainty about a moral lesson, it just discusses an event that occurred in someone’s life a long while back. In fables, there are 2-3 main characters around which the story revolves but in folktales, there can be any number of people involved. In storytelling terms, it can be stated that fables are for children to read and learn while folktales are not restricted by age, anyone belonging to a particular area can own the tales. Many other factors also influence both these terms and a brief explanation of what these two types of fairy tales actually are is given below.

Comparison Chart

Consists of animals as their charactersAnimals are not involved in a leading way.
There are no humans involved in a fableFolktales can have animals as a part of the story.
Mostly restricted to a jungle or outside placeParticular to a living area and even to one house.

Definition of Fable

Fables are the kind of stories which do not involve anthropological beings. They mostly revolve around animals, plants or other characters which exist but aren’t humans. However, these figures give the impression that they belong to life and act like humans. There are different ways in which a fable can be described. They have animals as their characters which are usually less than 2 or 3 in number and never include any humanoids. They do not belong to any particular area where people have developed them based on some fact. Actually, all the fables are false and are just created to convey some sort of message to others, specifically children on which they are focused. They are mostly based on an area outside the existing domain, such as a jungle and always have a moral lesson in them. The most important type of fables is Aesop’s fables which have been translated into different languages.


Definition of Folktale

For a story to be considered a folktale it has to be told by several people over the years and not belong to one person. These types of stories can be defined as tales which have been told over the years in a culture and have moved on to the next generations with very few alterations. These usually are based on facts and mostly are considered to be true. Folktales are not for children. Actually, they are stories narrated as they were from old times. Therefore, any category of people can relate to them including kids. These do not include any type of moral lesson and can have numerous people involved. The most famous folktales include The Pied Piper and Jack and the Beanstalk which belong to areas where they were originated. Folktales can include different types such as stories related to supernatural beings, or the ones which have historical context and even fairy tales.

Differences in a Nutshell

  • Fables consist of animals as their characters but in folktales animals are not involved in a leading way.
  • There are no humans involved in a fable, but folktales can have animals as a part of the story.
  • Fables are explicitly for children, but folktales are not restricted to people of a particular
  • Fables are not dependent on a particular area, but folktales originate from a particular field.
  • There is always a moral lesson when a fable is being told, but there is no standard of a moral at the end of a folktale.
  • Fables are mostly restricted to a jungle or outside place while folktale is particular to a living area and even to one house.
  • There are two to three main characters in a fable, but there is no restriction on the number of people who can be involved in a folktale.
  • Fables are shorter while folktales are longer and can even include some fables in them.


Stories are an important part of any society, but there are different categories among them which are usually ignored by people as they are just interested in the actual tale. This article looks at the two main types of stories, lays out the difference between them and makes it easier for people to understand what actually they read or heard in their childhood.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss