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I don't quite understand the difference among these constructions:

  • at home, in a home, in the home.

Especially, the difference between in a home and at home. I didn't find anywhere information (difference) between these two constructions. I only found something about "in the home" but "in a home" also does exist. "In a home" and "in the home", here "in the home" means a specific home, right?

Well, I want to know the difference among all these constructions. Please, help me.

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    In Britain, if your parents get senile, or your children too unruly, you used to put them in a home. Jul 15, 2023 at 10:04
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    For me, as a British English speaker in a home means in an old-folks home/institution. For example: She's in a home. (She lives in an old-folks home). If you want to say someone is inside a dwelling place, say "in a house", "in a flat/apartment". At home means at one's own house/flat/apartment.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jul 15, 2023 at 10:04
  • @MichaelHarvey Same in North America. "In a home" just about always means living in a care home for the elderly.
    – gotube
    Jul 15, 2023 at 18:09

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It is important to note that the word 'home' carries a different meaning to specific words for types of dwelling (such as 'house'). There are many situations where native English speakers would refer to their house or apartment rather than say 'home'. An example might be if someone in their garden said "my wallet is in the house" because they are already 'at home' on their land. This might negate many situations where you might expect people to say "in a/the home".

Also note that "home" is often used to refer to a specific kind of institution, such as a nursing, care, or 'rest' home for the elderly. It could also refer to a home for children in special kinds of care. Again, this means a native English speaker would avoid saying things like "I live in a home" because it has a specific connotation.

With those points in mind, here are the differences in the broadest terms with some examples:

1. "In a home" uses the indefinite article, so it could be used when making a statement about someone or something specific where the specificity of the home didn't matter. It could also be used to make a generic statement about homes in general:

  • He has found himself a home.
  • A home is made of hopes and dreams.

2. "In the home" uses the definite article, so it could be used to refer to a specific home previously mentioned or tacitly understood, but also to make a generic statement about all homes:

  • Most accidents happen in the home.
  • I'm going to visit Grandma at the home.

3. "At home" has a specific idiomatic meaning. It can be used when stating you are at the place where you live. It can also be used to refer to a feeling of being comfortable in a place either because it is your own home or feels like it:

  • I left my wallet at home.
  • I want you to feel at home when you visit my house.
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  • Who was it who said 'Marriage may be a great institution, but who wants to live in an institution?' Jul 15, 2023 at 10:35

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