I was working on English homework and am getting tripped up by the usage of the words "narrative" and "report". What's the difference? It seems to me they both mean to recall events in order.

I also checked WikiDiff Narrative vs. Report, but it doesn't seem clear to me.

Definitions I had gotten from Google:

Narrative: "a spoken or written account of connected events; a story."

Report: "give a spoken or written account of something that one has observed, heard, done, or investigated."

I found this unclear because report appears to be a synonym of narrative. (Google actually lists "report" in the synonyms for narrative.) Why? Because there exists a story about "something that one has observed, heard, done, or investigated."

So do all narratives count as reports? Or only narratives on true stories?

P.S. I had originally thought a "report" could only apply to researched, highly scientific articles. But apparently "What My Bike Has Taught Me about White Privilege" by Jeremy Dowsett contains an example of the "report genre".

  • 1
    What did the dictionary tell you? What parts of that did you find unclear? – Drew Oct 20 '17 at 0:58
  • @Drew (I don't know if you get notifications on question edits) could you review the question? I tried to show more precisely what tripped me up. – Funny Geeks Oct 22 '17 at 20:51
  • 1
    Jane Austen writes narratives, institutional researchers write reports. Narratives tend to be fictional or historical, reports tend to be informational and factual. – Mitch Oct 22 '17 at 22:38
  • Is this question better suited for ELL? I was looking at english.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic and ell.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic This site discourages questions about meaning and synonyms, while ELL says I can ask for "Word choice, usage, and meaning" – Funny Geeks Oct 23 '17 at 1:05

I find WikiDiff peculiar, and I wonder whether it's generated by a program. What does "adposition" mean? Just looking up the two words in a dictionary ought to have been enough. I am not going to do that and provide you with links on which to click.

However, a narrative tells a story, although certainly in some stories there would be flashbacks, events told out of order, and so forth.

A report is more likely to be organized by topic. One can imagine, for example, a report on global warming that has sections such as background, methods of assessing the current situation, controversies among scientists, predictions for the future (various kinds of predictions--impacts on coastlines, impacts on agriculture, impacts on species) etc.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.