I'm a student originally from the West Coast but currently studying in New England. I came across an interesting question concerning dialectology and the use of Patio vs. Porch. I have observed other words like Deck, Veranda, Lanai... etc. Where can I find evidence to show that this is a regional difference or just preference? Thanks!

  • Hi M. Munoz, I find your question terribly unclear. Does your understanding of patio or porch, or the understanding you found in New England, diverge from the definitions you find in dictionaries? You should share that with us, so that we’re able to understand what the question is. – Jacinto Mar 21 '16 at 21:38
  • Don't forget to add 'stoop' to the regional mix. In any case I'd say that while some of those terms are regionalisms, some of them are distinct things. A patio (veranda, lanai) is not the same as a deck, which is different from a porch (stoop) or a balcony. – Jim Mack Mar 21 '16 at 21:38
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    porch and patio are different in my book. Do a Google image search for both to get a feel for the difference. – Jim Mar 21 '16 at 21:38
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    @Jim: A porch is a stoop? Not in my book. Maybe all stoops are porches, but not all porches are stoops. – Peter Shor Mar 22 '16 at 0:00
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    @PeterShor - Did I say anything about stoops? Oh, other Jim... – Jim Mar 22 '16 at 0:15

This is more under the purview of architectural and building nomenclature as far as distinction is concerned. Here you are: http://www.homedit.com/what-is-the-difference-between-a-porch-balcony-verandapatio-and-deck/

Keep in mind that the regional differences in word usage can often be on account of varying climates. For instance, New Englanders experience many types of inclement weather, and often have porches which are covered, so that they can be enjoyed for most of the year. On the other hand, people in Nevada often have patios as it is most often sunny, and there is no need for a covering. Respectively, a region will usually generalize to the most common structure, and so New Englanders (I am one myself) will often use porch for veranda or even sometimes deck.

Hope this helps!


UK usage ...

'Porch' - an exterior structure forming a covered approach to the entrance of a building (at least partially protected from the weather). (OED)

'Patio' - a paved roofless area adjoining and belonging to a house; esp. a garden terrace (where tables,chairs, BBQs can be put). (OED)

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    Quite right. The only thing I would add is that patio, in Britain is a relatively recent addition to the language, and not a traditional term. A borrowing from Spanish it was used in America long before we got in on the act. A verandah (from Hindi) is one of those colonial words introduced into English. A verandah is an open space that extends along the front of a dwelling and offers shade, and shelter. Verandahs are less common in Britain itself than they were among the British in India. Australian houses are big on verandahs. I think Americans call them something else. – WS2 Mar 21 '16 at 23:37
  • In (western) US usage, a porch would be elevated above ground level and probably built (mostly) of wood. A patio would be close to ground level, and probably floored with concrete, stone, or similar. It might or might not be roofed, or even enclosed. (Mine has removable panels, so closed in winter, open in warmer months.) – jamesqf Mar 22 '16 at 5:43

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