Difference Between Language and Literature

Main Difference – Language vs Literature

Language and Literature are two interrelated concepts. Language can be simply defined as the study of sounds, words, and sentences whereas literature is the study of written work. The existence of literature is solely based on language. The main difference between language and literature is that language deals with both spoken and written aspects whereas literature mainly deals with written work.

What is Language

Language is an abstract system of symbols and meanings governed by grammatical rules. Language can be mainly divided into two sections: oral language (the language we speak) and written language. There are also many study areas of language such as phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, etc.

Phonology studies the speech sounds in the language.

Morphology studies the composition of words.          

Syntax studies the manner in which words are put together to form phrases and sentences.

Semantics studies the meaning in language.

It is our advanced language ability that set us apart from other species on earth. Language is a fascinating subject. Though it is governed by a set of rules, language is not a static thing; it evolves and changes every moment. Meanings of some words change over time.  Some words go out of use while some new words take their place.

There are many languages in the world. English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, German are some of the most spoken languages in the world. In 2015, SIL Ethnologue cataloged 7,102 living human languages. Even these languages, have different varieties that are known as dialects.Main Difference - Language vs Literature

What is Literature

Literature is a term that can be defined as written and sometimes spoken material. As a subject, it can be simply defined as the study of written work. Various definitions have been used to interpret literature throughout the history. Sometimes literature is defined as artistic works with a high and lasting artistic value.

Literature is categorized according to various forms; it can be classified as fiction and nonfiction or verse and prose. It can be further divided into major literary formats such as poems, drama, novel, and short story. Literature can be studied under various classifications such as time period, geographical locations, nature, etc. (Classical literature, French literature, Colonial literature, medieval literature, Modern literature, Romantic period,  etc.)

Most people assume that literature is a field that deals with creative and imaginary work of authors. However, non-fiction that contains facts and information is also considered as a part of literature.Difference Between Language and Literature

Difference Between Language and Literature


Language is an abstract system of symbols and meanings governed by grammatical rules.

Literature refers to written works, especially those considered to be of superior or lasting artistic value.

Written vs Spoken

Language is both spoken and written.

Literature mostly studies written work.


Language can be studied through literature.

Literature also studies the language.


Language was the first to come into being.

Literature cannot exist without language.

Area of Study

Language studies rules and structure; it is more technical than literature.

Literature studies the work and styles of different authors; it is a more aesthetic subject.Difference Between Language and Literature- infographic

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