What are the various ways to express story, short story, tale, and fairy tale in Russian?

Another way to put the question: what are the differences between история, сказка, рассказ, повесть, and other related words, in terms of everyday usage?

The only obvious difference to me is история means history, otherwise I see story, short story, and/or tale listed for basically all of them in the dictionary, which is not useful for knowing when to correctly use them.

2 Answers 2


история is a series of events happened. Usually it's about real events, if it's a fantasy story, the story teller is supposed to indicate it. For example: "Вот такая история у нас случилась: родился телёнок о двух головах".

история as history is a different meaning of the same word. It's series of events from the past, described by a historian.

сказка is a fairy tale.

рассказ is

1) the result of someone telling история. For example: - Вот такая история у нас случилась. [...] Он закончил рассказ и ушёл.

2) A short story, usually published.

повесть in a past could be used for any quite long рассказ, but nowadays it's only a form of literature, similar to novel, which is much larger than a short story, but shorter than a general novel (роман). Philologist define difference between повесть and роман in main character(s) personality change. No changing at all is for a повесть, otherwise it's роман. In collocation, there is only size difference. For example, 200 book pages is повесть, 500 is роман.

  • Отличие повести от романа все-таки не в размере, а в количестве сюжетных линий. У повести всегда одна сюжетная линия, у романа - минимум две. Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 18:20

Сказка is a fairytale, usually with fantastic. If somebody told a story (which is called "история" by him) which happened with him, others don't believe him because that story doesn't look real, they could say that it is a "сказка"

рассказ and повесть are used for literature. In short, рассказ is smaller.

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