Friday, December 30, 2011

House or home? Types of dwellings

The difference between these two nouns is not always clear.
A house is a type of building where someone lives. It is intended to be used by just one family and it may have more than one floor.
Home is the place where someone lives and feels that they belong to. Your home can be a house, an apartment or a farm, but if you live there, that’s your home.
However, you can also find the term home with the meaning of “building” when you think of it as a property that can be bought or sold. They are building a lot of new homes next to the railway station.
You can also use the term home when you mean your town or country. After living abroad for many years, I long to go back home to Spain.
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A dwelling is any place (house, flat, …) where a person lives. It refers to the actual building. The development will consist of 60 dwellings and a number of offices and commercial premises.
Abode is a formal word to say dwelling. Welcome to my humble abode.

Homework and housework are also different. The former means the school tasks that you have to do at home, while the latter means the work that you do to take care of your home, such as cleaning, washing, etc. Please, note that both these words are uncountable. The children were doing their homework on the dining table while their parents were doing the housework.

Other related words are:

  • Homesick: you feel homesick when you are away from home and really miss your family and friends. Exchange students usually feel homesick.
  • Homeless: people are homeless if they don’t have a home.
  • House-proud: someone is house-proud if they spend a lot of time making the house look clean and attractive.  Her husband does the cleaning, washing and shopping. He’s very house-proud.


  • At home. If you feel at home with something, you feel quite comfortable with it. He feels at home with his new job.
  • To set up home is to start to live in a house. After living for several years in new York, he has decided to set up home in Toronto.
  • If drinks are on the house you do not have to pay for them, as they are provided free by the owner of the bar. Let’s go to that new pub, the first drink is on the house tonight.
  • If two people get on / along like a house on fire, they become friends very quickly.
  • If you work from home, you do not work in an office. Today, more and more people are working from home thanks to the internet.

Note that the preposition to is not used before home. I’m going home. When there is no idea of movement, at is used in British English, while Americans don’t use any preposition at all.
He usually stays at home at the weekend. <British>
He usually stays home on the weekend. <American>

In the following presentation you can see different types of dwelling, especially those that you can find in Great Britain.

Now you can do the following crossword to check what you have learnt.

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