When looking for books to read, or even in daily conversation, we often read or hear about “fiction” and “non fiction”. A “fiction book”, a “non fiction story”, a fact that is “fiction”… While these concepts are frequently mentioned and approached in today’s discussions, these concepts can still be unclear or foggy for those who aren’t so interested in literature.
Below, we are going to explain the exact differences between “fiction” and “non fiction” and how these concepts are used correctly.
Fiction vs. Non Fiction
“Fiction” and “Non Fiction” are opposite nouns, this is an obvious aspect that can easily be remarked from the actual construction of the latter. “Non fiction”, or “nonfiction”, is formed by adding the negation “non” before the word “fiction”, which means it’s exactly the opposite of fiction.
But what is “fiction”, after all? “Fiction” refers to something unreal, something imaginative, fantastic. It’s not necessarily a lie, but simply a fact, an action or a story that is not true. So “non fiction”, of course, is something opposite to fiction, something opposite to an unreal story. “Non fiction” is actually reality, true facts.
When do we use “fiction”?
There are two different contexts where “fiction” can appear, used with the correct meaning. Firstly, “fiction” is used in literature, and this is also the most common place where this noun is approached. “Fiction” defines literature and stories about or including imaginary people or events, fantastical creatures or actions etc. Secondly, “fiction” can also be used when referring to something that is not true, something that might be made up.
Example 1: I read a great fiction about aliens and dinosaurs! – “fiction” refers to fantastic literature, about imaginative creatures, places or events.
Example 2: It was hard to say whether what he was saying was fact or fiction. – “fiction” can also be used to define something that is not true or that might be made up.
When do we use “non fiction”?
“Non fiction” is the opposite of “fiction”, and this is actually the best definition for this concept. “Non fiction” refers to something that is not imaginative, something that is definitely real, true, something that can be verified. “Non fiction” can also refer to literature, but to something that is real, based on arguments, statistics and data, revealing real, true events or facts.
Example: I love reading non fiction books, they are educative, fact-based and great for my research. – “non fiction” refers to literature, articles or content that is not based on imagination, but on real facts and verified data.
“Fiction” is associated with imagination, creativity and fantasy, whereas “non fiction” is about real, verified, true facts and events. It’s easy to remember what each refers to, because “fiction”, just like “fantasy”, starts with “f”, whereas “non fiction” is the negation of this concept, which means it’s simply the opposite. Use this trick next time to remember the difference between them, if you ever doubt which concept refers to reality or fantasy.