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Commonly Confused Words: Historic/Historical

Is the American Revolution a historic or a historical event (or both)?

Historic (adjective): 

  • Historic is an adjective that is used to describe a significant or influential event from history: “The signing of the Declaration of Independence was a historic event.”

Historical (adjective):

  • Historical is an adjective that is used to describe anything relating to history: “There is a historical pattern of global warming since the 1950s.”
  • Note: Historical can also be used as an adverb in the form of historically, which is typically at the start of a sentence and modifies the whole sentence rather than just the verb: “Historically, we can find no such trend.”
Rule: If emphasizing an event’s importance, use historic; if highlighting the past nature or quality of something, use historical.