In my language, there's a word that can be used to call both "house" and "apartment", and even "home".

I searched and found the word "dwelling" which means "house, flat,... where a person lives" but it's quite formal (according to Oxford dictionary).

So I'm wondering if there's any other word like that but we can use it casually in daily conversation?

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    digs /diɡz/ noun, informal, plural noun: digs "living quarters"
    – Mazura
    Commented May 29 at 7:54
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    If digs is acceptable, then there's also "pad" or "crib", I.E. MTV Cribs Commented May 29 at 16:19
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    My home or place (BrE and AmE). And the Brits say: mine or yours. Why not pop over to mine for a drink? All the other terms sound legalistic or like property ownership or sociology oriente.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 29 at 18:18
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    Note that "housing" can work when you're discussing, say, statistics or a news article about, well, housing. But there's really no comfortable term in the context you ask; it's why people say "my place", etc.
    – Fattie
    Commented May 29 at 18:27
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    For what it's worth, I (AmE speaker) quite often use "house" as an all-encompassing term for wherever someone lives. For example, I live in a condo, my friend lives in an apartment. I wouldn't find it at all strange to say "Do you want to hang out at my house or yours?" despite neither of us technically living in a "house"
    – DJMcMayhem
    Commented May 29 at 20:21

10 Answers 10


Some example cases.

If you want to say that you are going to your house/apartment, you can just use "home"

I'm going home now.

If you are asking about someone's house or apartment, casually you can use "place".

Can I come round to your place after work?

If you want a rather more formal term, then "residence"

He has his residence professionally cleaned each month.

If you are talking about the structure where you live, use "house" or "apartment"/"flat" as appropriate. Since you live there, you presumably know.

I've just moved into a new flat, south of the river but close to work.

  • Do you ever live in a flat but call it "a house"? I make this mistake all the time since in my language, we, too, can call anywhere we live "house". I wonder how bad this is for my speaking test. Commented May 30 at 11:48
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    For a speaking test, you don't have to tell the truth. Tell them you live in cave or treehouse!
    – James K
    Commented May 30 at 11:54
  • @anIELTSlearner I think you are mistranslating what you say is house would be in English home. home is where you live
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 30 at 21:12
  • Yes, I understand all the nuances of the above-mentioned words. But the thing is, in my language, there's a word which has the combination of nuances of both "house" and "home". However, when we learned English in primary school, teachers always used only "house" to refer to it, so it has now gone deep into my mind that I can use "house" to mean both "house" and "home", which is obviously incorrect. Commented May 31 at 2:05
  • So what happens when somebody asks me about where I live is: I will first introduce it as an apartment to let them know what kind of accommodation I'm living in. However, when I don't pay attention, I automatically switch to "house" since it also means "home" in my subconscious mind. Commented May 31 at 2:09

Another word that can be used to mean the same as "dwelling" is "residence." "Residence" also refers to a place where someone lives, including houses, apartments, or any other type of living space.

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    But that, as James says, is rather formal too. Commented May 29 at 7:32
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    "Domicile" also popped into my head, but is another formal option that would be more at home in some type of legal document. Commented May 29 at 16:09

Domicile is the place where you live, though it can also refer to your country, or location within your country (state/province/county/etc) and due to it's legal usage might also sound more formal than some of the other answers.

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    But nobody would say in everyday conversation "Would you like to come to my domicile?" (unless they were being funny). Commented May 30 at 12:10
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    I think domicile has the potential to be flat-out wrong. It's quite possible to be domiciled in place A but be resident (in a house or apartment) in place B. Perhaps for years. Commented May 30 at 18:53
  • @SpehroPefhany What's the difference?
    – Jed Schaaf
    Commented May 30 at 21:55
  • @JedSchaaf In casual everyday usage, probably not much. Legally your domicile is where you have a strong connections (maybe a dependent going to school without paying foreign student fees, a property you may have rented out to a tenant for a year or two contract, or a spouse who remains). Your residence is pretty much where you lay your head at night. Here is one explanation. "Domiciled" is also sometimes used to refer to temporary accommodation. Commented May 31 at 7:31
  • Seems to me that a word that can mean something or its (almost) opposite, and is overloaded with a specific legal meaning that is not necessarily intuitive might be worth avoiding entirely. Commented May 31 at 7:33

Home describes both, but so does House. They both describe a Town-House or *Apartment. So does Abode.

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    A house is always a detached building. If two families live in a duplex, we might say they “share a house.”
    – Davislor
    Commented May 29 at 14:55
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    Abode is a good suggestion no one else had mentioned.
    – Davislor
    Commented May 29 at 14:55
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    @Davislor in British English, many types of house are not detached: A semi-detached house; a terraced house; a "colony" house, and possibly a few more.
    – MikeB
    Commented May 29 at 15:26
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    @MikeB Thanks! I’m American and would use other terms for them, such as duplex and townhouse. But I was too categorical.
    – Davislor
    Commented May 29 at 15:55
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    @Davislor where I'm from (NY area) a "house" can definitely be semi-attached (one side) or fully attached (both sides). "Row houses" are a bunch of houses all attached in a row, but are still "houses." And we would never say that two families "share a house" unless they actually share living space, even in a two-family (or more) house (one with a separate living space on each floor, for example).
    – Esther
    Commented May 29 at 18:46

I can't think of a noun that represents a physical structure.

In daily conversation, we could use residence or place: I'll go to your residence (or place); or I'll visit your residence (or place).

Some may use abode, which I find too formal.


If you want to rent (or buy) a house or an apartment, but you don't care which - you'd say you're "looking for a property". If you'd like to buy your first home, you could say you "want to join the property ladder".

British English, but it probably works elsewhere too.

You're right that "dwelling" is too formal for everyday speech - I've only really heard of its use in a legal sense or on forms.

  • A person looking to rent a flat would say, I am looking for a property [to rent]? When I rent my first flat, am I also joining the property ladder?
    – EllieK
    Commented May 29 at 17:33
  • @EllieK Yes you can say "I am looking for a property [to rent]". Joining the property ladder relates only to buying, not renting - as far as I am aware. Commented May 29 at 18:32
  • "joining the property ladder" in particular would be very strange in AmE. I certainly would find it baffling without explanation.
    – Hearth
    Commented May 30 at 20:01
  • The problem with this is it could refer to business property as well as residential.
    – barbecue
    Commented May 30 at 21:59
  • @barbecue It refers to all kinds of properties. In a game of Monopoly it even refers to train stations. Simply prefix it with the type of property, I.E. business property/commercial property or residential property Commented May 31 at 1:50

Context matters.

  • I own two "residential properties". A real estate conversation where you are to differentiate between residential, commercial, industrial, etc. This is useful if the "residential properties" are of mixed types. Else one could say "I own two condos" or "I own two cabins", etc. To call it a residential property describes what it is for (residing/living there), but it does not imply the owner lives there.

  • We helped 500 families find new "homes". A conversation where what matters is the home aspect. Folks have a place to live.

  • At any of my "residences". This implies that the speaker lives in all of them (might own none of them)

  • Can we meet you at your "place"? The word place can mean many things, but in that context, it means the place where they live.

Before I fully read your question, my mind went straight to "dwelling" (I like speaking silly formal words). When you are buying home insurance, they'll ask the type of dwelling.

Personally, if It's plural and I have to be informal-ish, I'd say residences. If It's singular, I'd say place.

I am NOT a native speaker.


People in the business of renting houses or apartments or duplexes use the word "doors", as in the phrase "We currently managing seven doors." This is because a duplex, for example, has two doors but is one building.


If you want to remove all formality, and still be able to refer to a house or apartment, you could use the term "pad" which would be a slang/informal usage of residence

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Jun 1 at 17:24

You may not use it as widely as House or Home in natural language but the word:


can also mean a house or an apartment.

The thing is the meaning is so general ("a place to stay or live" says Cambridge dictionary) that it does not describe the physical fabric of the building/place. It can also be so many more things (a hotel room, a bunk bed on a boat, etc ...) that it is useful only to express the "place to stay" meaning. If you want any detail about what type of place it is, you'll have to use less generic words.

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