Difference Between Myths, Legends, and Fables

Myths, Fables, Legends, and Fairy Tales are all considered types of stories. Though they are all types of stories, they have some key differences. A myth is a traditional story that is used to explain a belief or perspective of the world. They are often used to provide a reason for the way the world is, such as the myths about the Greek gods. Each was a god of a particular part of nature or idea. They were said to be the reason that part of nature existed. A legend is a story that has been passed down through generations via oral storytelling. They are usually stories about real people, places, and events of the past. The facts within these stories are known to be somewhat exaggerated. A fable’s overall purpose is to teach a lesson or a moral using characters that cannot talk in real life (such as animals, plants, and forces of nature). Fairy tales are stories for children that often include a magical or supernatural element, such as elves, witches, or special animals. These stories most often begin with the phrase Once upon a time.

Hi guys! Welcome to this Mometrix video on Myths, Fables, Legends, and fairy tales.

A lot of you have probably grown up with your parents reading you books or watching movies with you. Well, chances are, most of what they read to you was a Myth, Fable, Legend, or fairy tale.

Let’s look at what makes something a myth, fable, legend, or fairy tale.

A myth is a story that was made up by people who wanted to explain how or why our world works, how it came to be, how we should treat each other, why hurricanes happen, and so on.
Myths were sort of like our ancient ancestors’ version of science. Myths explained how natural events occurred and are set in really ancient times; before history even began. These myths are generally passed on from parents to kids, and when those kids grew up to be parents, they would tell their kids, and so on. The word “Myth” actually comes from the Greek word “mythos” meaning “word of mouth.”

Myths were shared by groups of people all throughout the world and became a really big part of their community. Greek mythology is one of the most popular examples of this. Their myths generally centered around various gods and goddesses. Sometimes days were even set apart to have big celebrations because of these myths.

Legends! Legends are stories that people made up as well. However, legends are about real life people and what they did. Legends always have an important purpose, but the facts are always a little exaggerated to make them more interesting and exciting! Generally, some of the facts are dramatically altered and the person the legend is about never really did what the story says.

Now, a fable is also a story that is passed down. A fable’s overall purpose is to teach a lesson. However, all the characters in a fable are things that can’t normally talk. A fable is about animals, plants, or forces of nature that can talk and act like humans.

Fairy tales are probably one of the most popular today. Fairy tales are specifically for kids, and often have a lot to do with magic; like a fairy godmother, elves, or any supernatural character. Animals can also be characters in a fairy tale. Fairy tales always have good characters and evil characters. A lot of times fairy tales begin by saying “once upon a time.”

So let’s do a quick review:

Myths- are stories that are passed down about how or why something came to be.
Legends- are designed to teach a lesson about a real person in History, with a few facts dramatically changed.
Fables- are stories that are passed down, with a good lesson to be learned, and are about animals, plants, or forces of nature that are humanlike.
Fairy tales- are stories that are specifically for kids, involve magical characters, have good and evil characters, and generally start with “once upon a time.”

As you do your reading practice, try to find out what type of story it is, and be sure to check out more of our videos right here.

See you next time!



by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: October 17, 2019