English everyday – sofa, settee or couch?

What do you call this?


Probably, if you’re an English learner, you’d say sofa as that’s what many textbooks teach, and it’s also a similar word in other languages. But, if you come to Britain you might hear settee or couch too (and in America possibly love seat, davenport or chesterfield!).

Unlike other words in Britain sofa/settee/couch doesn’t seem to have clear regional differences, but it may have a class difference with upper-middle class and above people saying sofa, working class and lower-middle class saying settee or couch. Although this isn’t really strict (Kate Fox talks about this in her book Watching the English).

Are sofas, settees and couches different? A sofa has a back and arms, whereas a settee may or may not have arms. A couch has one side and half a back. But really we use all these words to mean the same thing – the big seat that’s not an armchair.


An armchair. Or is it a winged chair?

What do you say? Let me know below.

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Published by Abbie

English teacher, coach and writer. Helping English learners and teachers get more confident in their skills.

3 thoughts on “English everyday – sofa, settee or couch?

  1. I’m American, and I’d pretty much always say couch. I’m not sure about Davenport or chesterfield (those words aren’t common enough for them to have distinct meanings) but a loveseat is a specific kind of furniture—a small couch, usually one that seats 2 people instead of 3-4.


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