Historic vs. Historical – Usage and Examples

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

What’s your favorite story from history? Perhaps it’s the Tudor period or the creation of the World Wide Web. But are these historic or historical moments? What is the difference between historic and historical?

I’ll show you everything you know about the meaning and usage of these two confusing words. You’ll also learn how to use them in a sentence.

Historic vs. Historical—Which Should I Use?

Both historic and historical are two adjectives with the same root word but different meanings. The difference between historic and historical lies in what we’re talking about.

It can be confusing because the terms are so similar that most people wouldn’t even notice if you used them incorrectly. For example, I went to a university in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The downtown core is full of historic buildings. I still don’t know if I should have called them historic or historical because they are both old and hold a history.

Historic talks about an object, event, or place that significantly happened in the past, such as a historic event or historic moment.

Meanwhile, historical is an adjective meaning of history. It’s a general term to describe any piece of history, like a historical record, historical documents, and historical article.

People who write about important things in history believe that their distinctions are rigorous. However, some writers use one word for the other meaning and vice versa.

Historic Usage

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English speakers use historic to describe momentous stories, records, objects, or people in history. However, it would help if you didn’t use this adjective for anything related to the past. For example, you can’t call an old map a historic map if it’s not a famous part of history.

You’ll also find historic with other phrases like historic objects, historic documents, historic artifacts. However, you need to make sure you are referring to objects, documents, and artifacts with high relevance in history.

Historical Usage

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The adjective historical is used when you describe anything general from history, such as historical artifacts, historical fiction, or historical records. This word can be found before nouns from history. You can say historic Battle of Hastings but say historical events.

Remember that an event can be historical for everyone but not historic to history buffs. That’s because not all occasions can be considered impactful events or pivotal events.

Handy Trick to Remember the Difference

Here are some memory tricks to remember the difference:

  • Since historical is longer, it involves more events, objects, and people than historic.
  • Historic ends with c. Critical starts with c. Remember that historic objects are critical components of history.

Is H Silent in Historical?

H is not silent in historic or historical. They have the same h sound in words like hero and habit.

A Historical or An Historical?

A historical is a much better phrase, using the indefinite article a because h in historical has a consonant sound and not a vowel sound. However, many still think that an historical is a sound choice because the accent or stress is not in the first syllable.

An Historic or A Historic?

A historic is the correct choice of phrase because historic has a consonant sound like historical. However, some writers still consider an historic a typical choice because the accent is in the second syllable.

How Do You Use Historic in a Sentence?

  • The historic banana ketchup may seem weird, but it has a significant influence on history.
  • The signing of the Bill of Rights was a historic day because it’s essential to the molding of history.
  • Many would say he was an unremarkable vice president out of all the US vice presidents. But his vice presidency saw the historic World War 2.
  • The 1937 Ohio River Flood is one of the most historic weather events.
  • This 100th anniversary is a massive celebration because this university is the oldest in Asia.
  • Kamala Harris will be a historic politician because she’s the first person from the west of the Rockies to be part of the Democratic Party.

How Do You Use Historical in a Sentence?

  • We have a family history of celebrating Pancake Day, so it’s historical.
  • This fossil fuel was of historical significance.
  • The historical records show her pick for vice president is Burr.
  • Which historical moment in the 70s do the British people remember?
  • It would help if you examined other historical objects besides the entire article I provided.

Historic and Historical Summary

Now you know the difference between historic and historical in terms of meaning. I hope this guide also helped you learn how to use the words in sentences.

Use historic when you want to describe something that has immense significance in human history. Meanwhile, use historical when you want to describe something that belongs to a period of history but is not necessarily a famous moment.