Difference Between Folktale and Fable

Main Difference – Folktale vs Fable

Folktales and fables are two types of stories. Folktale is a story originating in popular culture, typically passed on by word of mouth. A fable is a short story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral. The main difference between folktale and fable is that fables always teach a moral lesson to the readers, but not all folktales have a moral. Let’s look at all these differences between folktales and fables in this article.Difference Between Folktale and Fable - infographic

What is a Folktale

A folktale is a story originating in popular culture, typically passed on by word of mouth. The term “folktales” actually covers a broad range of different types of story, including legends, adventure stories, fairy tales and stories relating to the deeds of well-known historical figures. Folktales can include material from other sources such as history and religion.

Folktales are anonymous; they have no exact author, and they passed on by word of mouth. Folktales are also place-specific; different countries their own folktales. Some folktales have different versions in different regions.

Folktales can have different types of characters – humans, animals, demons, gods, plants, etc. Folktales also can teach a moral lesson to their listeners, but not all folktales have lessons.

Main Difference - Folktale vs Fable

What is a Fable

Fables are a particular type of stories, in which animals, plants, mythical creatures, or other similar characters are given human qualities so that they act like humans. This quality of attributing human qualities to animals is known as anthropomorphism. Fables often deliver a moral lesson: this moral lesson may be explicitly stated at the end of the fable.

Some fables have known authors, while there are some others who have unknown origins. “Aesop’s Fables” is a perfect example for fables. Many popular tales such as hare and the tortoise, lion and the mouse, ants and the grasshopper, crow and the pitcher, fox and the grapes, etc. are fables. All these stories deliver a moral lesson at the end.

Difference Between Folktale and Fable

Difference Between Folktale and Fable


Folktales are stories originating in popular culture, typically passed on by word of mouth.

Fables are short stories, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral.


Folktales do not have an author.

Fables may or may not have an author.


Folktales may or may not have a moral.

Fables always have a moral.


Folktales have a mixture of characters – humans, animals, supernatural creatures, etc.

Fables have animals, plants, mythical creatures, or other similar characters that are given human qualities.


Folktales may have different variations.

Fables are usually uniform, especially the ones that are written down.

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By Laura Valentine – (Public Domain) via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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