In the communication, both word Truth and Reality are used. But I can't justify the clear difference in usage between them. So, Are they same/similar? In other words, Can both be used in place of each other?

So, In order to choose right words, I want to know proper usage with exact meaning of both: Truth and Reality.

Note: Question can also be titled as : Proper/Exact usage of words "Reality" & "Truth" (if needed)

  • 6
    Reality is often used to refer to that which exists, Truth to refer to assertions about Reality.
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 14:26
  • 1
    Most dictionaries give example sentences and usage notes. Which dictionaries have you tried?
    – user20792
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 16:35
  • 1
    We might as well want to close every question here since the related words can be found in a dictionary. I imagine a learner can easily be confused by how close these words might seem to each other. Voted to leave open.
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 17:28
  • 1
    @TRomano That's about as good as it gets. Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 17:37

4 Answers 4


You don't call a TV show a truth show and you don't (usually) ask someone to tell you the reality.

They are different.

Truth is a true statement that is in accordance with reality. It means a fact or belief that is accepted as true.

Don't tell me a lie and tell me the truth.
She found out the truth that he had an affair with another woman.

The antonym of truth is lie which is a (intentionally) false statement. You can't use reality in the above examples.

However, reality is a thing that exists in fact, having previously only existed in one's mind.

We want to make the dream a reality.
You strive to make the ideal in your mind become a reality.

You can't use truth in the above sentences.

She believed she would be able to control her feelings, but in reality that was not so easy.

You can't use truth in the above sentence as reality means the state of things as they actually exist. That's why you use a reality show rather than a truth show.

It is not easy to differentiate them, but the above examples show there is clear distinction between them.

  • 1
    RE: We want to make the dream a reality.... You can't use truth in that sentence. Perhaps not "truth"; however, people often say, "We want to make your dream come true."
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 19:31
  • @J.R. It means you don't differentiate a noun from a phrasal verb that has come as a verb and true as a complement. Got it. Thanks.
    – user24743
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 19:33
  • Um, no. I'm just pointing out how this issue can be rather complex for the learner. I have no issue with this answer; I'm just pointing out a quirk in the language.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 19:37

The two words you have chosen to define are particularly difficult to pin a definition to. If you were to ask this question on the Philosophy Stack Exchange you could get references to thousands upon thousands of pages of philosophy on the concepts. That philosophical basis helps shape the meanings of the words, so it is very hard to define them without at least touching on philosophy.

As such, you will find my wording choices waver, even in this answer. While it seems natural that the two words might have clearcut definitions, in reality the truth is that people mix their meanings all the time. (Forgive me, I know that sentence construction was cruel and unusual)

I believe the trick to understanding the words is that, when you use them to refer to a statement within language, the line between the words is murky. Accordingly, I'll explore their differences first, and then we'll bring them together.

Truth is typically considered an abstract concept. It doesn't "exist" anywhere, unless you have a religious belief which can point to a truth in reality. 1+1=2 is true, even though 1+1=2 is an abstract concept. We might argue that you can demonstrate its truth using real objects in reality, such as taking one stone and putting it next to another stone, and calling that "two stones." However, as we go deeper into mathematics, we find truths which are increasingly difficult to argue are part of "reality." For instance, a2 + b2 = c2 when referring to the side lengths of a right triangle is a true statement, even if one never constructs a physical triangle in reality. In fact, we can make true statements about really unusual mathematical concepts that can never be physical such as Graham's number such as "the last 6 digits of Graham's number are 195387," even though Graham's number is so mindbogglingly big that it is actually impossible to write down directly in reality (the number is so much larger than the number of atoms in the universe that it actually hurts).

On the other side of the argument, it is possible for things to be "real" but not "true," and at this point I'll start trying to do comparative pairs of sentences to help try to explain the difference. A "real" thing is not considered "true" until it is assigned a truth value. People, for example, are typically not assigned a truth value. If I were to talk about an individual in history named Jesus, I would say "Jesus was real" or "Jesus was not real." I would not say X"Jesus is true" or X"Jesus is false," except in the most informal of ways (some will use the questionable construction "Jesus is true/false" as a shortcut for saying "The abstract content of Jesus's message is true/false," just showing once again how murky the line is).

The two words get very very very similar when discussing statements. Statements we have made span the gap between the abstractness of truth and the concreteness of reality. I don't believe I can do this topic justice in a SE answer. The way those words bob and weave within the context of statements is something you'll just have to learn on your own. Fortunately, in that narrow context English speakers will be willing to accept both constructions with little to no confusion.

One of the more interesting lines that gets drawn between the words is the idea that truth can be conditional, but there is only one reality. This is an assumption made in the vast majority of English speaking countries. I can make a statement about the truth-hood of a mathematical proposition within some defined bounds: "It is true that water brings life (truth statement), assuming it does not drown it first (context)." In that sentence, I was able to use the word "true" in a conditional sense. I cannot do that with reality, on the assumption that there is only one reality. This behavior can be seen in a compound statement, "It is true that water brings life, assuming it does not drown it first. However, in reality, the dam upstream is about to burst, and it will drown us if we stay here."

And, frustratingly, the story doesn't end there. The words continue to dance in a strange loop. Because the concept of "in reality" got so over used, we started to question the assumption that there is only one reality. We developed constructions using the phrase "my reality" or "your reality," and typically they are used with the assumption of one "truth!" Gads! Thus you will come across statements like, "Maybe in your reality you can act any way you like, but in truth, there's only one way to live."

And so, I believe I have given you lots of information, but its unclear whether it has actually helped. The best advice for understanding them I can give, in context of all I have written, is to use "true" when dealing with abstract concepts, and "reality" when dealing with concrete physical concepts. In the murky region inbetween, use context: determine if the current conversation suggests "one reality," which is the default for most English speakers, or if it suggests "one truth," and then use your words accordingly.


They are similar with different purposes.

Reality & Truth (seen as a fact)
The reality is that smoking kills.
This article is a lie. This one tells the truth.

Reality (state of being real)
What does Aristotle say about the nature of reality?

Truth (scientific conclusion)
This so-called scientific truth is open to questions.

Reality (somebody's perception of truth)
Her reality is different than ours.

Truth (seen as honesty)
She's always telling the truth, and never lies.

(Taken from truth & reality from WordReference.)


Dictionary definitions of reality and truth can be easily looked up. As for the differences, reality could be considered a special case of truth - that is, reality is the truth about things that happen. Truth is more general; it is simply consistency with some model. If you choose history as your model, then reality and truth coincide.

Example: a mathematical statement such as 1+1=2 is consistent with classical arithmetic. That makes the statement true within that model of arithmetic. Is it real? It is an abstraction and so, arguably, not real.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .