Difference Between Lesson and Chapter

Key Difference: Lesson and Chapter in academic life like in school, both the words are used interchangeably like for example:

  1. Open your books, we will study the next lesson.

  2. Open your books, we will be studying the next chapter today.

But, be careful while using these words as both of them does not mean the same thing in day-to-day life. While for students, reading the next chapter becomes the sub-head in a textbook (physical or electronic) and a lesson becomes a topic under the sub-head or the broader chapter.

The key difference between both the words is Lesson in simple terms means teaching or learning a particular skill using a certain procedure, For example:

  1. My experience taught that it is better to stay honest and true than to lie. (This is experience teaching a person a life lesson.)

  2. Today in Science, we will do Anatomy and will cover Human Anatomy today. (This sentence explains that the teacher is teaching Science as a subject, with Chapter name as Anatomy in that the subsection topic or lesson as Human Anatomy.)

Whereas, Chapter is more or less like a division of a relative length or to signify milestone of a story or in life. For example:

  1. I reached a new chapter in my life.

  2. I am on the 4th chapter.


A lesson is a period, during which you learn lot of things about specific skill or about a certain topic. Lesson are generally step wise (phase) activities to progress or to achieve a certain goal or qualification like to learn driving by Lesson​taking driving lessons or by attending specific number of lessons. The word lesson comes from Latin 'lectio', which means the 'action of reading (out)'. Since then the word was often used for the text itself, generally a passage from the Bible read out during a religious service. Thus, any portion of a book to be studied was referred to as a lesson. A lesson is a structured period of time where learning is intended to occur. Lesson is defined as 'a period of learning and teaching' by definition given by oxforddictionaries.com, while there are other definitions and meanings of lesson given at Dictionary.com like:

  • a section into which a course is divided, especially a single continuous session of formal instruction on a subject.

  • A part of a book or an exercise assigned to a student for study.

  • Something to be learned.

  • Something from which a person learns or should learn.

  • A reproof or punishment given to teach someone in better ways.

  • A useful piece of practical wisdom acquired through experience or by studying.

Lesson involves one or more students being taught by a teacher or instructor. A lesson may either be one section of a textbook or a short period of time during which people (learners or pupils) are taught about a particular subject or an activity.  In other general and wider sense,a lesson is an insight gained by a learner into a previously unfamiliar topic. Lesson taught can be either planned like teaching or accidental like experience or painful if it means to teach a lesson to a person for mistake or to ensure that the person does not repeat something. Lessons can also be enjoyed by using entertaining mediums in teaching techniques by combining education and entertainment together from which the term 'Edutainmnet' was coined. There are various methods of teaching a lesson and this involves the latest edutainment lesson technique that has visual, virtual learning environment coupled with electronic learning. These also come under the distance education techniques with video-conferencing or the above mentioned techniques which enables the student to have interaction and can be easily taught to people who cannot be in the same location physically. These techniques are synchronous, asynchronous and blended ways to deliver lessons.

Teaching lessons has aim of reaching towards the decided or necessary outcome by following all the given objectives. Imparting knowledge and motivating learners to execute the same are taught through giving lessons and needs participation from the sides by teachers and students, where the ratio of students is generally more than that of the teachers. Teaching lessons needs availability of required resources as well as needs usage of different techniques and methods for individuals with different learning styles, cultural difference and special needs.


Chapter is defined as ' a main division of a book, typically with a number or a title' by oxforddictionary.com. Chapter is a noun derived from Middle English: from old French Chapitre, from Latin Capitulum, which is diminutive of ChapterCaput meaning head. A chapter is one of the main division of a piece of writing of relative length like for example a book, prose, poetry or a law. Chapters are generally numbered or titled or both in general cases. For example Chapter 1. Introduction or 1. 'Down the Rabbit-Hole' from “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland”. A Chapter usually refers to a segment of a book and mostly the school books like textbooks have chapters that may then have sub-sections like set of lesson or lessons. Chapter is also metaphorically referred to a period of time. A chapter has various other meanings like:

  • An act of Parliament numbered as part of the session's proceedings.

  • A distinctive period in the history or in a person's life.

  • A series or a sequence.

  • A local branch of a society.

  • An important or division of anything.

As per dictionary.com, in late Latin it is referred as a section of a book; in Medieval Latin, it is a section read at meeting, hence it is also used for meetings. Academic settings like school and school-books like text-books are compulsory to have chapters name or numbered or either both are also necessary for the same to be mentioned in the 'Table of Contents'. Many novels of great length also include chapters, generally Non-Fiction books, so that there is easy navigation when used for reference or study purpose. Chapters form the core content of the book often divided in discrete segments of the body and are generally numbered with Arabic numerals beginning with “1” on the first page of the chapter. Chapters are often sub-divided into sections and is mostly referred as Lessons especially in text-books. Large works with lot of chapters often group them in several parts as the main-division of the book. The chapters are mostly listed in table of context also known as Index and are numbered sequentially and may also have titles. Old novels had a common practice of summarizing the content of each chapter in either table of contents or in the beginning of each new chapter. Chapter listings in the table of contents must be worded exactly as they are in the book.

Comparison between Lesson and Chapter





A period of learning and teaching.

A main division of a book, typically with a number or a title.


Lessons provide much focused interaction and activities with that particular topic

A chapter might also have interaction but it would be covering the whole broader concept covered in that chapter.


Specific and detailed topic

Broader Concept

Categorized as

Lesson is the sub-section of the Chapter

While a Chapter is the a part of the book and the body called as 'Chapters'

Table of Contents

A lesson need not be necessarily included in table of contents, could be used for clarity purpose.

But a chapter needs to mentioned name and number wise in the table of contents as it is given in the book.

Significance/ Usage

A lesson focuses on the meaning of the broader concept as learning lessons by studying or by life experiences.

A chapter is used to categorize different broader concepts into individual topics. Thus, chapter becomes important part of the book in 'table of contents' and also as the main body of the book.


Class, Session, Lecture, Test, etc.

Era, Phase, Episode, Period, etc.


Each lesson has one main aim or objective to be achieved.

One chapter can have several include several lessons.


Life has many chapters and each chapter gives us one life learning lesson by experience and knowledge.

References: Wikipedia.org (Lesson, Chapter), Oxforddictionaries.com (Lesson, Chapter), 
Dictionary.com (Lesson, Chapter), Hinative.com, Iuniverse.com, Thebalancecareers.com
Image Courtesy: Russianforfree.com, Bookunitsteacher.com

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