Different Englishes: The House

houseDifferent Englishes: The House is an essential entry for anyone planning to talk about the house with Brits or Americans, as some of the terms are completely different. Additionally, if ever you intend to rent or buy a place in an English-speaking country this can offer useful guidance for understanding what to look for.

Key: UK vs. US word

Block of flats vs. Apartment building

  • Although we have gradually adopted ‘apartment’ in the UK, the most common way to call a one floor building is a flat and when there are many we call them a block of flats. In the US this is referred to as an apartment building. These are particularly common in big cities.

 Council estate OR council housing vs. Housing project

  • An area where there is lots of social housing – housing subsidised by the government. This could also be called ‘the projects’ in the US.

Note: in the UK “the Council” simply means the local government.

 Estate Agent vs. Real Estate Agent OR Realtor

  • The person who finds you a house for a fee. Realtor is the commonly used term in the US, but this refers to the specific company they are from.

Show home vs. Model home

  • In a new housing development there is often a house that the estate agents furnish to look like a home for potential buyers to visit.

Note: In the UK we call it a show home because we show it to buyers, and in the US it’s a model home as it’s supposed to show how other houses in the development could potentially look.

 Ground floor vs. First floor

  • The bottom floor of a building (as long as not underground). In the UK the first floor is above the ground floor i.e. one floor off of the ground, whereas in the US this would be called the second floor, and so on.

Note: This one confuses even native speakers so it is worth remembering!

Cellar / Basement– the room underground a house. This is more commonly found in the US.

Loft / Attic– the room or storage space in the roof, above the top floor of a house. Usually you would use a ladder to reach this area of the house.

Garden / (back) yard – the outdoor area where plants are grown. Usually at the back of the house.

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