English Language Blog

Using English to talk about “home” Posted by on Jan 19, 2016 in English Vocabulary

Image by Nicolas Raymond on Flickr.com.

Image by Nicolas Raymond on Flickr.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

We have a saying in English that goes like this: “Home is where the heart is.” This saying generally means that your home will always be the place where you feel the most comfortable and loved the most. I think we can all relate to this saying, even though we may live in very different types of homes.

Today we are going to look at vocabulary to describe some of the many different types of homes out there. While you look over this vocabulary, remember no matter what type of home you have – home is where the heart is.

apartment (or flat in British English) – a self-contained house inside a large building; apartments can range in size from very small (a studio apartment) to very large (a penthouse apartment)

cottage – a small country home, usually a humble house

castle – a large, usually stone home, often built in the 18th or 19th century; castles were originally used as defensive structures and homes

duplex – two houses (which often look like just one house from the outside) that are next to each other and share a center wall

Earthship – a house made of natural and recycled materials (i.e. car tires, soda bottles, etc.) and soil or earth; they often include passive solar heating and solar panels

farmhouse – the main house on a farm, where the family that works on the farm lives; farm houses can have many different styles, but they are not usually fancy or ornate

hut – a small single-story building of simple construction using materials that are commonly found in the area where the hut is built (i.e. earth/soil, sticks, hay, etc.)

log-cabin – a house originally built by pioneers or frontiersmen using solid wooden logs stacked horizontally on top of one another

row house – three or more houses that are in a row (in a row = next to each other) and each share a wall with their neighbor

stilt house – a house built on long vertical logs or stilts that raise the house up off the surface of the ground or above water

tiny house – a small house usually less than 1,000 square feet (93 meters2); often these houses are built on wheels and are mobile

villa – a large country house with a courtyard, usually found on a large piece of land or farm owned by a person with considerable money

yurt – a circular tent-like house, made of a collapsible wooden frame walls; traditionally these were nomadic houses in Asia

What does your ideal home look like? Is it one of the house-types listed above, or maybe something different? Leave a comment below describing your current or ideal home.

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.


  1. Bart:


    Isn’t the main trait of a penthouse apartment that it is on the top floor of an apartment complex? I.e. the apartment with the best view? Sure, generally they are also the largest apartments in the complex. But suppose a hypothetical apartment complex with only identically sized apartments, then I believe only the highest apartment would be designated as the penthouse.

    Also, I hear many people saying that they live in a condo. What is that? And in college, what are fraternity houses? Do these house the dorm rooms?

    Thank you

    • Gabriele:

      @Bart Hi Bart,
      Often penthouse apartments are on the top floor, but not always, some are on the first floor – definitely they are most often on the top floor of a building. Penthouses are always differentiated from other apartments by their luxury features, one of which is their large size.
      A “condo” is an abbreviation for the word “condominium” which is a building or group of buildings that containing multiple individually owned apartments or houses.
      Fraternity houses can be any type of dwelling really, but they are often large single family homes that are occupied by a group of students (fraternity brothers or sorority sisters) with different students living in different rooms of the house. They are different from “dorms” (which short for “dormitory”) as dorms are usually university owned and operated. Dorms tend to look like apartment buildings.
      I hope that helps,

  2. Bart:

    Hi Gabriele

    Very informative, thank you! 🙂