Both seem to mean story so I am wondering what the difference between them is.

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    はなし usually just means something closer to "discussion," whereas ものがたり is always a story about something specifically. – Kurausukun May 7 '17 at 1:39
  • @Kurausukun You should make that an answer – Blavius May 7 '17 at 2:04
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    How about comparing 「 [話]{はなし}」 and 「[物語]{ものがたり}」 instead? Both mean "tale" – Chocolate May 7 '17 at 3:23

はなし(話) is the most basic word for any spoken content, that can be translated as talk, story, rumor, argument, report, discourse etc. as far as I can think of off the top of my head.

ものがたり(物語) is an old word that means "story-telling", and due to long-standing tradition 「X ものがたり」 becomes a fixed expression to say "tale of X", such as カンタベリー物語 Canterbury Tales or 二都【にと】物語 A Tale of Two Cities.

はなし has few special meanings, but we specifically refer to an episode of rakugo by this word (in this case, it's usually written in kanji 噺).

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    has little special meanings って「複数の小さい特別な意味」? 「ほとんど特別な意味はない」じゃないですよね・・それやったら「few」やし – Chocolate May 7 '17 at 3:27
  • @Chocolate ありがとうございます。お恥ずかしい限りです m(_ _)m – broccoli forest May 7 '17 at 3:37

Generally, the comment of @Kurausukun to your question is correct.

Literally, 話{はなし} hanashi is a story, and 物語{ものがたり} monogatari is the noun form of 物を語る which means "to tell something" or "to tell a story".

To me, monogatari sounds having more meaningful or longer contents of a story than that of hanashi, which is suitable to be called for the contents of a novel.

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