Hey there, this is Teacher Ola Podcast episode 89: Historic vs Historical

My name’s Ola and I’ve overcome a massive language blockade myself and now I help you do the same. I’ve been teaching English since 2012. If you want to eliminate your fear of speaking and boost your vocabulary, brush up your grammar, improve your pronunciation, this podcast is for you!  Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning!

Hello and welcome! Today I’ve got something new for you. It’s gonna be quick, it’s gonna be brief and it’s gonna exercise your brain. You really need to focus on this episode in order to make sure you fully understand the difference between ‘historic’ and ‘historical’. Those two words are far too similar, I agree. Nevertheless, they are used in different contexts. Why is it important in terms of your language blockade? Fear of speaking. Well, I can imagine that if you don’t know which one is correct you decide not to say anything at all? Am I wrong? See, it’s better to communicate even if that means making mistakes. Sometimes though you might communicate the wrong thing for the sake of confusion. 

In this episode, you’ll learn if the words can be used interchangeably. You’ll find out how to use ‘historic and how to use ‘historical’. Then, and only then, so stay with me, you will practice. I’ve prepared 15 sentences with both: ‘historic’’ and ‘historical for you to carefully listen, embrace the meaning, retain and finally – repeat. Let’s begin without further ado!

Historic and historical can be interchangeable but have taken on separate roles in most use cases. We’ll talk about it in a second. At their core, ‘historic’ and ‘historical’ are variants of the same word. However, over the time, they’ve mostly settled into distinct roles. Anyways. Should we use a or maybe an before those words? 

a historic

an historic

a historical

an historical

Guess what! Both! Both are used! Still, a is more common. So it is more common hence more natural to say a historic building, a historical building. Well, you might think, there should be no problem because the word starts with the audible sound /h/,that is a consonant. The confusion stems from the fact that in the words ‘historic’ and ‘historical’ we put the accent on the second syllable: historic, historical. lease repeat: historic, historical.


Historical is used as the general term for describing history, such as historical society. Historical usually describes something that is connected with the past or with the study of history, or something that really happened in the past: Was Sherlock Holmes a historical figure? 

Historical is a broader term, so use it when you want to refer to history in general. Historical museum, historical society, historical monarch., historical note.  is the word you can use to describe anything from the past, important or not. A “historical event” is just something that happened in the past. It doesn’t have to be an event that people are going to talk about and remember as important 50 years from now. 


Historic is usually used to describe something that is so important that it is likely to be remembered: Today is a historic occasion for our family.

Historic is usually reserved for important and famous moments in history such as a historic battle, historic documents, historic ruins. “Historic” is the word you want to use to describe an item or event that’s important or influential in history. important milestones, events in our history. 

Last but not least, remember that Any item or event from the past is historical. Only the important ones are historic. I’ve seen somewhere this memory trick for these words. It’s a good on, listen. the word that ends in “ic” is “important,” and they both start with the letter I; and the word that ends in “al” is “all in the past,” and those both start with the letter A.

This is it, there’s nothing to add, so the only thing that is left is the most important one, that is your practice. Like always, listen and repeat out loud!

I have been doing some historical research.

It’s unlikely that the share price will exceed historic levels.

The legend of John Henry is based on a real, historical figure.

Murals depict the region’s historic events.

‘It is a historic moment, ’ he told journalists.

Was Robin Hood a historical figure?

Today is a historic occasion for our country.

This is a historical event. 

These battlefields were declared a National Historic Landmark.

We used a historical map to learn about the history of our town.

Landing on the Moon was a historic event.

I have been doing some historical research.

You must place these events in their historical context.

Take a tour of historic sites in the old city.

The building is of historical importance.

Well done! Thank you for doing this! Now, download the worksheet and practice some more, on your own. Translate sentences into English and please don’t forget to say them out loud when they’re finished. The worksheet is in your inbox if you’re a member of TOPeople. If you’re not, please become one. It’s free, and one of the best ways to subscribe is to download the newest worksheet at teacherola.com/89. 

So! Here you have it! Two confusing adjectives explained and practiced. Today we had ‘historic’ and ‘historical’. The main takeout is this: All events from the past are historical. All of them are historical, if you catch my drift. But only some of them are historic, epic, important. 

Thank you for tuning in, for staying till the end. If you want to support this podcast please Share this episode with someone you think might need it. I would love this podcast to reach people who feel blocked when it comes to speaking English. 

Next week we’re going to explain song lyrics. John Mayer! See you next Wednesday. Till then have a great, fearless week. Remember to say it out loud! Happy learning bye-bye!