“Historic” and “historical”

Many educated English speakers confuse (confunden) these two words. They are different. Examine these examples:

  • The defeat (la derrota) of the Spanish Armada was in 1588.castle
  • Admiral Nelson´s assault (asalto) on Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797 was unsuccessful (infructuoso).

These are historic events (acontecimientos históricos), events of special significance (importancia) in the history of Spain and Great Britain.

Now examine these two sentences (oraciones):

  • Elections for the Canarian Parliament were held in May 2015.
  • Zapatero, the former Spanish prime minister, published his autobiography last week.

Neither of these events is of any particular consequence or world changing – hence they are historical. They are facts, historical facts.