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House vs Home: What is the difference?

If you’ve ever traveled, you’ll understand the emotional connotation behind the sentence: I am missing home. People rarely talk about the place they dwell in, that place they have a psychological and emotional attachment to, as their house. Instead, they call it their home. The difference between house vs. home is a huge difference in one’s mindset.

The two terms home and house are used in different contexts in the English language. Both indicate where a person lives, but there’s a lot of nuance beyond that.

The word house refers to a physical building. Home refers to the geographical location where someone resides and often to their commitment to it as where they feel comfortable within. In certain contexts, the two can mean the same thing. If the structure is a house, that house is also a home.


What is the meaning of the word house?

A house is a building made of bricks and cement with no real emotional attachment. Different types of buildings house people, but not all these buildings are called houses. For example, apartments, condos, etc. are not called houses, although they can be your home. The primary function of a house is to provide shelter and protect anyone that lives in it. One can own or rent this type of building. It is a physical possession that holds monetary value.


What does home mean?

To describe the meaning of this word, let’s go over some sample sentences. Home refers to any location where family members hail from or reside. For example, a home could be a country. You could say:

  • I call America my home.
  • England will always be home to me.
  • I have to go home to Germany.

It could be a physical location (other than a country) or structure, other than a physical building. You could say:

  • I live in a condo on 11th Street. It’s my new home.
  • I love going to Little Italy. It feels like home to me.
  • I grew up in Texas. It’s my home.
  • I used to live in a tent next to a lake. It was my home for six months.

It is any location that makes an individual feel that they belong there. Usually, there is also a strong emotional attachment to it. It is a place where someone may feel comfortable, where families come together, or a place of hope, love, and togetherness. The difference between home and other words used to describe a place of residence is that home holds a special place in your heart.

It is an abstract thing that holds sentimental value, much like your childhood home. You have fond memories of it. You may not live there anymore, but you have always called it home, and you probably always will. That’s because it is more than just a dwelling place.

Related: Single Family vs Multi-Family: Which is right for you?


What is the difference between a house and a home?

The key difference between home and house is that house refers to the many different structures that people live in, such as a two-story house, a duplex, a triplex, or a townhouse. There are other types of buildings where people reside, including a condo or an apartment. A house, condo, or apartment are the three different names/words that refer to a building that people reside in.

Home has a different meaning and is used to describe where people reside, but it doesn’t matter what type of physical structure/building it is. Apart from the emotional connection, home could also mean the geographical location, a boat, a car, or any other location where someone resides, regardless of the structure.


A physical building versus emotional connotation

Imagine moving into a new building. It’s cold, and there’s minimal personality to the place. You don’t feel comfortable. Let’s say that the person you are sharing this home with may be a friend, a family member, a spouse etc. Every day, you return to this building, and you experience the same emotion. It feels like nothing more than a dwelling to you. You talk to friends and family about creating a sense of belonging in this place.

You decide to decorate and add your personal touch to the house. And then suddenly, you notice a difference.

The lace curtains blow gently in the summer breeze. Natural lighting pours into the space, and soft cushions spread over the couch. Photos of that day you spent on the beach last year are framed and put on the wall at the entrance door. Now, when you enter this house, it starts to feel cozier, warmer, and much more like home. Sentimental objects and pictures are placed in the home that make it feel inviting. As a result, the ambiance of the building has changed.

Congratulations! What used to be called a house is now a home.


Feeling like you belong there

Another key difference between home and house is that one will create a feeling of belonging while the other will not give you this same emotional attachment.

Houses often feel cold and empty, regardless of how much furniture is in the house. A person will not emotionally connect with a house until it feels like a home. The word home will often refer to a place that has some form of connotation to the concept of family. You love your family, and they love you. This gives you a sense that you belong.

Only a home can give you that experience. Only a home can emulate belonging can feel warm and inviting. And lastly, only a home resembles words like love, care, giving, inviting, and beauty, as these words perfectly describe the meaning.


Permanent versus non-permanent

The words home and house are often used interchangeably. But when it comes down to the true meaning of each of these words, context is key. For example, one refers to a building that will remain in place for as long as it is maintained.

The other refers to a movable concept that can take root in any location, as long as the owner can create a sense of family and belonging in that location. Finally, houses are permanent or semi-permanent structures.

Family members come together at the physical location known as the house. But what the family does in this place makes it feel like a home. For a dark example, let’s imagine that the permanent structure of a house is destroyed. The owners will no longer be able to refer to it as their house, but they will always be able to call the area their home or the home they once knew.

And this is a critical difference between home and any other terminology. That is what the phrase, ‘home is where the heart is’ is based on.


Using terminology in the English language

There is a difference between home and house in terms of meaning but also in terms of use. This becomes evident through the use of sentence examples.


Using house in a sentence

Below are some examples of how to use house in a sentence.

  • Andrew bought a house last month.
  • The house is located on 3rd Avenue.
  • The house burned down.


Using home in a sentence

Below are some examples of how to use home in a sentence:

  • Maryland is my home.
  • Is Andrew home yet?
  • I am going home to Scotland.
  • I lived in a trailer park for two years. It was my home.


House vs Home FAQ

What do you mean by a house is not a home?

The difference between home and house relates to the emotion it invokes inside you. The term house is cold while the term home is warm. The key difference being an emotional attachment.

It comes down to the fact that the two can not always be used interchangeably as their meanings are not the same. For example, one speaks more of a building while the other speaks more of an emotional connection.


Should I use house or home?

Understanding the difference between these two words is crucial in understanding which to use in which context. Home and house are not the same thing. Use the word house when referring to a physical brick and mortar building. Use the word home when referring to any location that makes you feel the way your family does.


How can I use house and home?

Knowing how to use the words home or house means understanding the difference between home and house. When you talk about the physical place where you live, you may refer to your house. However, when you talk about the place that holds a special place in your heart, represents family, and feels warm and inviting, you are talking about a home.



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