The definition of a word dwelling is a house or a place of residence.

But I don't understand the difference of two.

You normally use the word house, but then when do you use dwellings?

Is the word more proper/formal?

  • I think dwelling is a humble way to say house.
    – Schwale
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 18:04
  • 4
    As a native American English speaker, I would never use dwelling conversationally. Its a semi-formal legalistic word used for regulations and insurance paperwork. I would almost always use "house" to imply the place someone lives, since I'm not drafting legal documents.
    – Ron Jensen
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 19:45
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    Ron Jensen is correct about "dwelling." In American English, nearly the only time "dwelling" is used in common speaking is as a verb. "I can't stop dwelling on what happened." To where "dwelling" means a kind of obsessive thinking, usually over something negative. "I can't stop thinking about what happened."
    – Tracy
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 19:59
  • @Ron Jensen how is this word used in a sentence for insurance paperwork? I think I saw this word in a book. Is it used to tell stories or something similar?
    – Maimai123
    Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 18:38
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    "Dwelling" is can be used in legal matters to describe a building where people live. So a zoning law might hypothetically restrict the height of a dwelling in a neighborhood to 25 feet. Or see this page on an insurance company website that uses the word and here's another for flood insurance. The word there is being defined in a very technical legal sense to clarify exactly what is insured. You would not use it in casual conversation. Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 21:43

2 Answers 2


I believe @mbakeranalecta explained Canadian English. This explanation is for American English.

"this is my dwelling"

You would never use "this is my dwelling" in conversation to refer to your house or home. It is very outdated. @RonJensen explains more above. You will almost never read or hear it used as a noun but only as a verb, as I explained in the other comment. Some people may use it to sound silly on purpose by using an outdated word. For example, to close friends: "Welcome guys, this is my dwelling. ;)"

"this is my home" vs "this is my house"

It is equally common to say "this is my home" as is "this is my house."

"This is my home" in American English is the one phrase that can be used formally and informally for any type of residence. If in doubt what to say, then say, "this is my home."

For people living in apartments they do not own, it is not common to hear, "this is my house." Instead you hear, "this is my home/apartment/place."

"This is my house" is used formally and informally for a standalone building, townhouse, or condo you own or a standalone house you rent.

"This is my place" or "this is the place" is informal and can be used with friends, closer contacts, or people you are already informal with.

"place of residence"

"Place of residence" is only used on official forms you write your street address on.

  • if it's outdated, does it mean that it was used long time ago?
    – Maimai123
    Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 18:41
  • Yes. It is good to know the phrase for older literature and articles.
    – Tracy
    Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 22:52
  • I was going to add a discussion about the difference between "house" and "home" saying something about house being a less emotionally attached word. I may live in a house, but with my family I would say "home." Home may also refer to your city, especially if you are traveling.
    – Ron Jensen
    Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 23:02
  • @RonJensen True. Good points. "House" can be a less emotionally attached word than "home" and that fits my explanation, which was focused on the physical properties of a residence. It is also good to know how to speak emotionally about where one lives as you point out.
    – Tracy
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 3:53
  • @RonJensen Perhaps it is an American difference, but the use of "house" and "home" can both be used emotionally or for status in the US. "This is my house! Get out of my house!" "This is my home. I make the rules." "Wow! Is that your house?" "Your house is beautiful!" "Home is where the heart is." "This is home for me." And as you say, home may also refer to your city. In the US, "hometown" is where you were born or grew up.
    – Tracy
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 3:54

"This is my house" means "I own this house."

"This is my dwelling" means "I live in this place"

A dwelling can be any place you live: house, apartment, cardboard box under a bridge.

That said, people will often use "my house" to mean the place the live, even if they don't own it.

More common still would be to say "my place".

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