Is a “house” a “home”

http://www.eslpod.com/eslpod_blog/2010/06/01/is-a-house-a-home/

QUESTION:
Johan from the Netherlands asks about the difference between “house” and “home.”

ANSWER:
The terms “house” and “home” are often used to mean the same thing: the place where you live. In many situations, these two words can be used interchangeably (one for the other). In the following sentences, the speaker is referring to the building or rooms where he/she lives:
— “Come home/to my house with me this afternoon and I’ll help you with your homework.”
— “The houses/homes on this street were all built in 1952.”
— “I left my glasses at home/my house and can’t see well enough to drive.”

However, these two terms can also have slightly different meanings. You would only use house to refer to a stand-alone (not attached to something else) building where you live. An apartment (a room/set of rooms in a building you rent), condominium/condo (like an apartment, but you can own your own unit), townhouse (like a house, but shares a wall with the house next to it, usually with a smaller yard than a house or no yard) are not usually called “houses.” On the other hand, you can use “home” to refer to any space where you live and sleep, including a house, apartment, condo, townhouse, etc. A good way to think about it is that “home” is the more general term and “house” is one type of “home.”

Keep in mind, however, that when people hear the word “home,” they often think of something else, something more than just a building or a room. We often associate (connect) “home” with a feeling of belonging and with a place where we feel comfortable. That’s why there are expressions like these: “Home is where the heart is,” meaning anywhere can be a home as long as the people you love and care about are there; “home sweet home,” which is something people say when they return to their home and are very glad to be there; and “a place to call home,” which is a place where a person feels he or she belongs. There is even an old song called “A House is Not a Home,” meaning that a building or room cannot make you feel like you belong there or that your house is not necessarily where you can find the people you love.

In his question, Johan also asked why “home” — if it has this meaning of being the comfortable place where people feel they belong — is also used in expressions like “homes for sale”? There are two possible reasons. “Homes for sale” is a common expression real estate agents (professionals selling homes, buildings, and land) use. One reason they use “homes” instead of “house” is that what they’re selling may actually not be a stand-alone or single-family (intended for one family) house, but a condo or a townhouse. A second reason may be that the real estate agent wants you to think about the property they’re selling you as a home, a place that is comfortable and a place where you belong, not merely (only) a building or a set of rooms.

So, a “house” can be a “home” and a “home” can be a “house,” depending on what you really mean.

Thanks to Johan for the question and I hope this helps. I also hope that you all have a place where you can call home.

~ Lucy