In English, we often use the nouns “home” and “house” interchangeably to mean the same thing.
For example, you might hear someone say, “I’m going to my friend’s home this weekend.” But if they had said, “I'm going to my friend's house this weekend,” it would be correct too.
However, in some instances, it would be incorrect to use “house” when meaning “home,” and vice versa. So what is the difference, then, between “home” and “house” and how they’re used?
The noun “home” is used to refer to one’s place of residence.
Example: Junko has been away from home for three months.
It is also used to describe:
- The social unit formed by a family or group of people living together.
Example: Rita works hard to make a good home for her children.
- An animal’s habitat.
Example: Australia is home to the koala bear.
- A place of origin or headquarters.
Example: Migrating birds fly home after the winter.
- An establishment providing residence and care to people.
Example: Judy works part-time at a nursing home.
- The objective of certain games.
Example: Baseball players must touch the home plate to score.
Expressions with "Home"
The noun "home" is also used in various idioms and expressions. Here are three examples:
- To make yourself at home = to do what makes you feel most comfortable.
Example: When Kaya arrived at the apartment, Maria showed her the sofa and said, "Make yourself at home."
- Close to home = affecting someone personally, often in an uncomfortable or unsettling way.
Example: Luke was trying to enjoy the film, but its message hit too close to home.
- To bring home = to make something perfectly clear.
Example: Watching the TV footage really brought home how devastating the earthquake was.
In this Warm-Ups & Fillers pair-work activity for all levels, students take turns describing and drawing each other's homes.
The noun “house” is used to refer to the physical building in which a person, family, or group of people resides.
Example: I’m going to meet Nick at Junko’s house.
It is also used to describe:
- A building in which something is sheltered or stored.
Example: In Cobble Hill, there is a renovated carriage house for sale.
- A student or religious residence/community.
Example: Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the largest fraternity house in the US.
- A place of business or entertainment.
Example: Harper Collins is a well-known publishing house.
- The audience in a theater or concert hall.
Example: Hamilton opened to a full house on its first night on Broadway.
- A type of dance music.
Example: Disco is one of the main influences of house.
Expressions with "House"
The noun "house" is also used in various idioms and expressions. Here are three examples:
- On the house = for free; at the expense of management.
Example: The first round of drinks is on the house.
- To clean house = to eliminate corruption, inefficiency, or undesirable conditions.
Example: After the scandal broke, the owner cleaned house, firing the team's general manager and support staff.
- To get on like a house on fire = to progress rapidly and successfully.
Example: Jasmine and Ali get on like a house on fire.