Difference Between Debate and Discussion

Main Difference – Debate vs Discussion

Debate and discussion are two terms that are often used interchangeably since many people do not realize that there is a difference between the two. This misconception stems from the loose interpretations of debate, i.e., debates are often defined as discussions in which different opinions are expressed. However, debate and discussion are not the same; there are many differences between debates and discussions. The main difference between debate and discussion is the competitiveness of debates. A discussion is an exchange of opinions and ideas whereas debate is a form of formal contest of argumentation between two people or groups.

This article covers,

1. What is a Debate? Definition, Examples, Purpose

2. What is a Discussion? Definition, Examples, Purpose

3, Key Differences Between Debate and Discussion.

Difference Between Debate and Discussion - infographic

What is a Debate

Debate is a formal contest of argumentation between two individuals or teams. In a debate, there are two opposing sides and these opposing sides attempt to prove each other wrong. Each side listens to the other side to find flaws and spot differences in order to produce counter-arguments. In simple words, one side searches for weaknesses on the other side. Debates, unlike arguments, have a conclusion. At the end of a competitive debate, one side is declared the winner and the other side becomes the loser. The winners are selected by a board of judges based on a list of criteria that usually includes content, style, and strategy. Competitive debating is carried out in local, national and international level.

In parliaments and other legislatures, debates are conducted before making laws and amendments. Here, the members of parliament discuss the positive and negative sides of the proposal and cast votes. Debates are also a part of the US presidential elections; it is customary for the main candidates from the largest parties to engage in a debate.Difference Between Debate and Discussion

What is a Discussion

A discussion is an exchange of ideas, information, opinions between a group of people. It can also be viewed as a type of conversation between several people. A discussion can have different goals; for example, a group of students who start a discussion over a lesson has the objective of sharing and understanding facts and information. A group of people who get together discuss a film or book is united by the common goal of sharing their personal opinions and ideas.

Although opposing views may be presented during discussions, the speakers will not usually engage in a debate about this contrast.  Both will explain their stances and will acknowledge the others’ right to have his own opinion. This happens because there is no competition or the need to prove his standpoint.Main Difference - Debate vs Discussion

Difference Between Debate and Discussion


Debate: A debate is a formal contest of argumentation between two individuals or teams.

Discussion: A discussion is an exchange of ideas, information, opinions between a group of people.

Opposing Views

Debate: A debate always has two opposing sides.

Discussion: People may express different views during discussions, but discussions do not necessarily have two opposing sides.


Debate: Debates often have a conclusion; one side is declared as the winner or the proposal being debated is either accepted or rejected.

Discussion: Discussions do not have a conclusion; there is no tidy, accepted ending.


Debate: Debates are more formal than discussions.

Discussion: Discussions are more informal than debates.


Debate: The debaters attempt to persuade the listeners and the other side that their view is correct.

Discussion: The purpose of a discussion includes sharing knowledge, information, experiences, and opinions.


Debate: Debate is competitive.

Discussion: Discussions are not usually competitive.

Image Courtesy: 

“Debate Logo” (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

“Discussion” (Public Domain) via Pixbay

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.