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Fact vs. Theory: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 1, 2024
Fact is an observation confirmed to be true, while a Theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world.
Fact vs. Theory

Key Differences

A Fact is a statement that can be proven true or false, based on objective evidence. In contrast, a Theory is a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of the natural world, backed by a substantial body of evidence.
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Facts are observable realities and can be empirically verified. Theories, however, are frameworks for understanding a range of facts and observations, often providing predictions about how phenomena will behave.
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In science, a Fact represents a basic statement of knowledge, like 'water boils at 100°C at sea level'. A Theory, such as the theory of evolution, explains a wide range of facts and observations within a coherent model.
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Facts are typically indisputable, such as the existence of gravity. Theories are broader in scope, offering explanations that can be tested and refined, like Einstein's theory of relativity.
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A Fact does not change when new theories are proposed. However, a Theory can evolve or be replaced as new facts and observations emerge.
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Comparison Chart

Definition

An observable, verifiable piece of information.
A well-substantiated explanation of phenomena.
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Changeability

Generally unchanging.
Can evolve with new evidence.
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Scope

Specific and concrete.
Broad and abstract.
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Role in Science

Building block of knowledge.
Framework for understanding and prediction.
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Verification

Empirically verifiable.
Supported by a substantial body of evidence.
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Fact and Theory Definitions

Fact

A piece of information presented as having objective reality.
The Earth orbiting the Sun is a scientific fact.
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Theory

An idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action.
His theory about the missing keys was incorrect.
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Fact

A truth known by actual experience or observation.
It's a fact that water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius.
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Theory

A systematic ideational structure of broad scope.
Quantum theory deals with the behavior of the smallest particles.
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Fact

Something demonstrated to exist or known to have happened.
Gravity's pull is a fact proven by physics.
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Theory

A hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation.
We developed a theory to explain the unanticipated results.
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Fact

A datum of empirical, objective, verifiable content.
The fact that the moon affects tides is well-documented.
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Theory

A coherent group of propositions formulated to explain a group of facts.
Darwin's theory of evolution explains biodiversity.
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Fact

Knowledge or information based on real occurrences
An account based on fact.
A blur of fact and fancy.
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Theory

A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.
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Fact

Something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed
Genetic engineering is now a fact. That Chaucer was a real person is an undisputed fact.
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Theory

The branch of a science or art consisting of its explanatory statements, accepted principles, and methods of analysis, as opposed to practice
A fine musician who had never studied theory.
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Fact

A real occurrence; an event
Had to prove the facts of the case.
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Theory

A set of theorems that constitute a systematic view of a branch of mathematics.
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Fact

Something believed to be true or real
A document laced with mistaken facts.
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Theory

Abstract reasoning; speculation
A decision based on experience rather than theory.
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Fact

A thing that has been done, especially a crime
An accessory before the fact.
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Theory

A belief or principle that guides action or assists comprehension or judgment
Staked out the house on the theory that criminals usually return to the scene of the crime.
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Fact

(Law) A conclusion drawn by a judge or jury from the evidence in a case
A finding of fact.
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Theory

An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.
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Fact

Something actual as opposed to invented.
In this story, the Gettysburg Address is a fact, but the rest is fiction.
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Theory

A description of an event or system that is considered to be accurate.
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Fact

Something which is real.
Gravity is a fact, not a theory.
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Theory

(sciences) A coherent statement or set of ideas that explains observed facts or phenomena and correctly predicts new facts or phenomena not previously observed, or which sets out the laws and principles of something known or observed; a hypothesis confirmed by observation, experiment etc.
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Fact

Something concrete used as a basis for further interpretation.
Let's look at the facts of the case before deciding.
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Theory

(uncountable) The underlying principles or methods of a given technical skill, art etc., as opposed to its practice.
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Fact

An objective consensus on a fundamental reality that has been agreed upon by a substantial number of experts.
There is no doubting the fact that the Earth orbits the Sun.
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Theory

(mathematics) A field of study attempting to exhaustively describe a particular class of constructs.
Knot theory classifies the mappings of a circle into 3-space.
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Fact

Information about a particular subject, especially actual conditions and/or circumstances.
The facts about space travel.
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Theory

A hypothesis or conjecture.
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Fact

(databases) An individual value or measurement at the lowest level of granularity in a data warehouse.
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Theory

A set of axioms together with all statements derivable from them; or, a set of statements which are deductively closed. Equivalently, a formal language plus a set of axioms (from which can then be derived theorems). The statements may be required to all be bound (i.e., to have no free variables).
A theory is consistent if it has a model.
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Fact

(archaic) Action; the realm of action.
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Theory

A doctrine, or scheme of things, which terminates in speculation or contemplation, without a view to practice; hypothesis; speculation.
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Fact

A wrongful or criminal deed.
He had become an accessory after the fact.
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Theory

An exposition of the general or abstract principles of any science; as, the theory of music.
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Fact

(obsolete) A feat or meritorious deed.
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Theory

The science, as distinguished from the art; as, the theory and practice of medicine.
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Fact

Used before making a statement to introduce it as a trustworthy one.
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Theory

The philosophical explanation of phenomena, either physical or moral; as, Lavoisier's theory of combustion; Adam Smith's theory of moral sentiments.
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Fact

A doing, making, or preparing.
A project for the fact and vendingOf a new kind of fucus, paint for ladies.
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Theory

A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena;
Theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses
True in fact and theory
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Fact

An effect produced or achieved; anything done or that comes to pass; an act; an event; a circumstance.
What might instigate him to this devilish fact, I am not able to conjecture.
He who most excels in fact of arms.
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Theory

A tentative theory about the natural world; a concept that is not yet verified but that if true would explain certain facts or phenomena;
A scientific hypothesis that survives experimental testing becomes a scientific theory
He proposed a fresh theory of alkalis that later was accepted in chemical practices
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Fact

Reality; actuality; truth; as, he, in fact, excelled all the rest; the fact is, he was beaten.
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Theory

A belief that can guide behavior;
The architect has a theory that more is less
They killed him on the theory that dead men tell no tales
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Fact

The assertion or statement of a thing done or existing; sometimes, even when false, improperly put, by a transfer of meaning, for the thing done, or supposed to be done; a thing supposed or asserted to be done; as, history abounds with false facts.
I do not grant the fact.
This reasoning is founded upon a fact which is not true.
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Theory

An abstract or unproven idea or belief.
Einstein's theory of relativity transformed modern physics.
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Fact

A piece of information about circumstances that exist or events that have occurred;
First you must collect all the facts of the case
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Fact

A statement or assertion of verified information about something that is the case or has happened;
He supported his argument with an impressive array of facts
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Fact

An event known to have happened or something known to have existed;
Your fears have no basis in fact
How much of the story is fact and how much fiction is hard to tell
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Fact

A concept whose truth can be proved;
Scientific hypotheses are not facts
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Fact

A statement strictly adhering to reality or truth.
The fact that the Earth is round can be proven by satellite images.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Can a theory become a fact?

No, a theory explains facts but does not become a fact itself.
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Is a scientific theory the same as the everyday use of the word 'theory'?

No, in science, a theory is a well-supported explanation, not just a speculative idea.
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Jan 01, 2024

Is a fact always true?

A fact is considered true based on current evidence, but new findings can lead to re-evaluation.
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What is the purpose of a theory?

A theory provides a coherent explanation for a range of observations and facts.
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Do facts depend on cultural beliefs?

Facts are independent of beliefs and are based on objective evidence.
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What defines a fact?

A fact is a statement that is proven to be true based on evidence.
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How is a theory developed?

A theory is developed through hypothesis, experimentation, and analysis of results.
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Can a fact be disproven?

Yes, if new evidence contradicts it, a fact can be disproven.
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How do theories impact scientific progress?

Theories guide research and experimentation, leading to scientific advancements.
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Can facts change over time?

Our understanding of facts can change with new evidence or perspectives.
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Are theories just guesses?

No, theories are well-substantiated explanations based on evidence.
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How does a theory relate to a hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a tentative assumption, while a theory is a well-substantiated explanation.
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Can a theory be universally accepted?

A theory can be widely accepted in the scientific community, though it's always open to scrutiny.
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Jan 01, 2024

Can theories be proven wrong?

Yes, theories can be modified or rejected if new evidence disproves them.
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Are all facts scientifically proven?

Most facts are supported by scientific evidence, though some are based on direct observation.
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Are facts subjective or objective?

Facts are objective and verifiable, regardless of personal beliefs.
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Are facts always based on empirical evidence?

Facts are generally based on empirical evidence, though some are established through historical records.
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How do theories contribute to our understanding of the world?

Theories provide frameworks for understanding complex systems and phenomena.
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Jan 01, 2024

Can anyone create a scientific theory?

Formulating a scientific theory requires extensive research and evidence.
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Is a scientific theory the final word on a topic?

No, theories are always subject to revision and refinement with new evidence.
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Jan 01, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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