Difference Between Language and Literature (With Table)

Language is a method to express one’s opinions, feelings, etc. It is a method of communication that encompasses all mediums, such as sound, grammar, and words. The study of language is called linguistics.

It enables humans to share valuable knowledge and develop societies. Different languages are used for different systems of communication. It is species-specific to human beings. Other animals have not been able to come to par with the level of advanced communication of humans.

The literature, on the other hand, came into existence because of language. It is mostly written and refers to a collection of written works. It is an art form that has intellectual value. In a broad sense, it is any written work.

Some of the significant forms of literature are poetry, prose, and drama. The scope of literature is extensive and is also said to be the universe of discourse. Language and literature are very different from each other in the aspects of meaning, existence, nature, concern, order, method, etc. The purpose of language is to express ideas, opinions, emotions, and knowledge. Whereas, the purpose of literature is to capture those expressions of language.

Language vs Literature

The difference between Language and Literature is that language includes both spoken and written aspects of communication, whereas literature is limited to the written aspect of communication.


Comparison Table Between Language and Literature (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonLanguageLiterature
MeaningIt stands for any form of communication or expression.It refers to written or spoken material, which is regarded as an art form having intellectual value.
NatureIt is expressive.It is imaginative.
ConcernIt is concerned with discourse.It is concerned with life experiences.
OrderLanguage came into existence before literature.Literature would not exist without language.
MethodsLanguage is both written and spoken.Literature is mostly written.
ContentA language is a form of expression.Literature is a collection of expressions via language.


What is Language?

Language is basically a system of communication that enables the transfer of information. It takes into consideration both written and spoken mediums of communication. It is more of an abstract form using symbols and meanings. It comprises of words, sentences, and sounds. The combination of these elements helps the information of a language. The oldest language is Sumerian. It is known to exist since 3500 BC. The proof for the same was found in Iraq. There is around 5000 to 7000 language in the world.

Many studies exist in the filed of languages such as phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. The study of sounds in speech is known as phonology. The study of word composition is called morphology. The study of how words are put together is known as syntax. The study of language is called semantics.  Every society, region, and place would have a different language. 

There are various languages like Hindi, French, Spanish, Punjabi, etc. in 2015, 7,102 human languages catalog was released. Different varieties of languages are known as dialects. A language is bound to have grammatical rules that govern it’s working.


What is Literature?

Literature refers to the written aspect of communication. Any form of written communication is said to be literature. It is a collection of expressions. These expressions are communicated via language. Thus, the existence of literature depends on the language. There can be as much literature as languages. It is focused on the creative writing side of the expression.

There are three types of literature: Poetry, Prose, and Drama. Poetry is an aesthetic medium of written communication using rhythms and is always set in verse. Prose refers to written expression in sentences like a novel, novella, and short story.

Dramas refer to plays that intended for performance. There are other forms of literature as well that include biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, etc. These are a record of experiences of people. It includes their creative expressions and what they have witnessed.

Main Differences Between Language and Literature

  • Language refers to any form of communication used to express, whereas literature is a written art form sought to have intellectual value.
  • Language is a written and verbal form of communication, whereas literature refers to only the written form of communication.
  • Language came into existence before literature. On the other hand, literature came into existence because of language.  
  • Language is a medium of expression. Literature is a collection of expressions via language.
  • Language is expressive as its purpose is to express ideas, knowledge, and opinions, whereas literature is more imaginative.



In normal day-to-day usage, one might use literature and language as synonyms, but they are two different terms. Language focuses solely on expression, be it through speech or writings; the literature, on the other hand, just focuses on the written aspect of communication. Even though literature is said to be the universe of discourse, it would have no existence without language.

Language forms with the usage sounds and words, forming sentences acting as a means of communication. The literature, on the other hand, is made up of thoughts that have been expressed previously using language. It has several literary forms such as poetry, prose, and drama.

Language and literature are highly co-dependent and help in the development of each other.