Category Archives: Location-Place-Space

BREAKING NEWS: Similar Words Have Different Connotations

For your convenience (and mine), I will discuss the concepts of location, place, and space in neat little subsections. Forgive me for any Latin, as it may not be of interest. I’ll bring it all together somehow.

We get the word "location" from locus (referring to a specific spot if read literally). From this, there’s the locative case for certain nouns, which indicates where the action is happening (Londinii, Romae, etc.). It’s a lot like looking at a map in some touristy place and seeing the star or arrow that says, "YOU ARE HERE."


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To me, the idea of location is distant and impersonal, like looking down on the Pine Barrens from the fire tower (McPhee 3). It’s important to know the address and property lines of your house, but you shouldn’t forget that it’s also a home, where people grow, fight, change, bond, and whatever else you might imagine. So if we know where we are, shouldn’t we also know what’s taking place?

Place (see what I did there?):
The word "place" isn’t only a noun, but also a verb. You can salute me as Captain Obvious the next time you see me. When thought of as a verb, place gives off a feeling of deliberation. While you place your hands on the table, haven’t you made a choice to do so (no matter how conscious)? Therefore, place comes with the notion of intent. Sewanee is a location to most people if they happen to be aware of it, but to us it’s also a place. Memories are made, lessons are learned, and you get the point. Not only do we know where we are, we directly know how to feel about it as well.

The final frontier. When you think about space on a universal scale, you realize how vast it is. So vast, that neither you nor scientists with decades of expertise have any idea of where it might end (if that’s even how it works). The universe and atoms have something in common in the sense that they are mostly "empty" space. Going back to Latin again, we get the word "space" from spatium (extent, room, interval of time). The thing about space is that it exists, regardless of whether we’re observing it or not (or caring for that matter). Space doesn’t necessarily need us, but we need space.


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According to an online dictionary, spatium can also mean "time or leisure, as with opportunity." When we arrived at our dorm room for the first time, it was difficult to identify the space as our own. But we remembered to pack, such that if I were to visit your room (or you mine), it would be easy to see that someone lived there. This gives me the impression that although much of space is empty, it still has some potential of being filled.

While these three words have very similar meanings, there’s a reason we’re attending Finding Your Place (and not "Finding Your Location" or "Finding Your Space"). Place feels personal and depends on us.

(Here would be a very good place for a snazzy Venn diagram, but I’m still trying to find the right medium. I will work on it!)

The meaning behind place and space

Location, place, and space could be considered synonyms at a glance, and in a sense they are. These three words all can refer to a point on a map. Upon closer inspection, however, many other uses become apparent for space and place. Location is straightforward—it is an area of land with borders around it. From here, the other two words become more ambiguous. Space has twenty-four different definitions, while place has fifty. From these definitions, I personally find myself compelled to believe that space has a more possessive connotation, while places create more of a sense of belonging. A person can have a space—for instance "this desk is my study space,"—and that is their own individual property. That item or location belongs to them and that’s what makes it special. The word place refers to a more abstract, albeit, in my opinion, a more powerful meaning. A place can be owned as wells as shared by a great many people, but it holds a different emotional connection for each of them, making it unique. Like a work of modern art, not everyone sees the same thing and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. An example of one of my places is Love’s Circle, a hilltop where many Nashvillians, myself included, go to reflect and to watch the sun set. The memories I have created there are shape this wonderful location into a "place" with which I can identify, and my memories are not the same as others who also retreat to this location. It holds a different significance for all of us, despite our sharing of it.

(Location- Place Space) Latitude-Comfort-Atmosphere?


What would you consider to be your favorite location? Or Perhaps what is your favorite place? Wait, let me rephrase that for a second, what is your favorite space? To ponder these questions means to think of an "area" you like most–or a certain niche where you always feel comfortable. Through all of these discussions I grew to understand the deeper, more "sophisticated" meaning of the words place, location, and space. Essentially, all of these words have the same base or the same definition. But, betwixt all of the normalcy there is a slight difference to each one. Location is more pinpointed than place and space. When one usually thinks of a location, they usually think of coordinated place. The best way I can describe this is to remind everyone of the GPS saying, "arrived at your location". This would mean that a location has less of an emotional connection and more of a destination oriented connection. This can also tie into the word place. Amongst a location, many could have a place. Although they are similar, a place is broad and usually inflicts a memory upon someone. Right now there is a moth perched upon my wall. Its spot on the wall is considered its location (5ft. from the right and 7 inches from the ceiling). In this location it is in its place, receiving the nourishing desk light I am providing it. It is appealing to its positively phototactic nature that it was born with. Around this location there is space. This space is not necessarily limited like location or a place. It is more like an atmosphere. The moth right now is in my ‘space’ because this is my side of the dorm. But would it not be his space as well? In this world, we all live in one space. In this space there are different locations and places which we view through our different personal lenses. Just like the space above our earth, there are planets (locations) that we know of, but would we be able to say that the place the mars rover is exploring is cool? No! because we have not personalized with that space; we have not stood on the red sand. We could say the space it is exploring is interesting because space is universal, it is everywhere.

Here is a poem a 9 year old wrote about her favorite place.

Interrelatedness between Similar Terms

Location as defined by Wikipedia is "a specific position or point in physical space". This means that the word "location" highlights a fixed particular place from a large and wide area (space). For instance, a location on the map of the world could be anywhere from a country like Nigeria to a state like Tennessee to an ocean like the Pacific ocean. Drawing from what we can easily identify with, a location could also be my hall, Cannon hall in Sewanee’s beautiful campus. Therefore, a location is usually permanent and immovable. Wikipedia also defines space as a "boundless three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction". Space is a vast, endless area. For instance, outer space is an empty range where the universe and planets are located. Space, however, can be viewed in more aerially limited terms. The area under my bed can also be seen as a space. Therefore, both location and space are physical.
However place is more abstract, usually formed by an emotional attachment to something. When you give someone a place in your heart, for instance, you have, for whatever reason, made them a part of your life. This is profound. We all hope to find our place during this pre-orientation program and that means drawing ourselves to something or experiencing something special within the "location" and "space" of the campus. Therefore, technically, a place is a location or space but with a higher level of emotion or affection.

Place, space, and location, what they mean to you

Place, space, and location may seem the same at first, but a special bond separates your place from just a location. Your place is where you belong, where you feel comfortable, or a space that has emotional importance to you. I feel like a space can define a location, but space can move around. A location can be general, or specific, but without much emotional attachment. Your place is special to you, but it is also a location to others. Your place is where you can be yourself, and the space there is of significance to you.

Location – Space – Place

Location,space and place are all the same and have the same connotations. Difference between the three of them is the importance to that person. A space can be a location, and a place can be a location but a location will no always be the place.
Space is a general area with no significance to that person nor any emotional feelings. Anything can be a space,but only then will a space be a location when the area has a specific landscape or geographic background. Space and location are very much a like, only difference is that there is space EVERYWHERE and location has specific coordinates. Place only occurs when emotional feelings are connected with that place and there are memories and/or it just makes that person feel some type of way. A place is somewhere a person builds a bond with and continue to make long lasting memories and changes. For example, people can find a place in a garden. They continue to take care, nurture, and give unconditional care to. It takes them higher and makes them feel like a better person by being in the garden. Now say if the garden were to be destroyed, those memories are still there but the garden is not. Unlike location and space, place can be a wide variety of things because a object can be a place that takes you back to a specific moment and time. Every time you see that special object you get a sense of nostalgia and it can bring back emotional feelings that you had before. A person can also be a place because there are attachments that can be developed with that person overtime. You can take lessons learned from that person that can make you reflect more and think about yourself in a deeper manner or just feel more relaxed thanks to their presence. At the end location, space, and place all intertwine but as you move on to each one it gets deeper and brings more out of you as an individual.

The Paradox of Feelings

As defined by, location is a place or situation occupied, place is a particular portion of space, and space is an expanse in which all material objects are located and all events occur. All three are interconnected with each other because they can be each other but not at the same time it is paradoxical. Based on the definitions presented, a location can be a place and a place is a specific part of space. For example, a square can be a rectangle but a rectangle cannot be a square. Often place is associated with a sentimental memories while space advances forward. For a location to become a place it must first pass a series of tests and pass before it may become someone’s place. The tests a location goes through is subjective because every individual has grown up and experienced things differently. No one can definitively provide a concrete example of a place or when it happens because the process of a location becoming a special place is different for everyone. Although, sometime a location, place, or space will not actually be a physical location but an idea. For example, Disneyland. Who doesn’t like Disneyland? But rather of Disneyland being a place for me it was more of what happened that became my place. The memories of my family being happy, excited, smiling, and carefree is my place. At the end, the place may inhabit a physical space but in this example my place inhabits a perceptual space.

Attachment Levels

The difference between Location, Place and Space is difficult to identify.

The easiest place to begin is by looking at the definitions of each word. However, while looking up the definition of the word Place, these were the top results from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
1) a specific area or region of the world: a particular city, country, ext.
2) a building or area that is used for a particular purpose
3) a building, part of a building, or area that is used for shelter
While all valid definitions for the word place, none of the 12 definitions offered seemed to match my understanding of what place is. From my experience, as well as class discussions, I have decided that the definition of place will be a location, either tangible or imaginary that leaves a particular individual(s) feeling content, comfortable, and internally settled.
With that definition, place becomes abstract. While it can be attached to a location and space, it is not necessary. That being said, location is a definitive site; where something is located can move, but the original site/location does not. More specifically, location is a spot that could be found using a map. Following location, space is a definitive location that can change, in my mind, a 3 dimensional area.

Now this is where it gets complicated…
In order for a transition from location to place, an emotional attachment is required; this is when an individual calls a location their place. According to The University of Washington, "Place attachment and meaning are the person-to-place bonds that evolve through emotional connection, meaning, and understandings of a specific place and/or features of a place." Therefore, through experience, either real or imagined, an individual can create an attachment to a place emotionally.
Similar to Place, there can be an emotional attachment to a space. For example as we moved into our dorms, many of us chose to change the lifelessness of the walls by adding personal pictures or posters. However, while we identify this space as our own, it is not somewhere where we yet feel content and at home.

In this sense, an order can be created. Location is the most broad category, allowing both space and place to be locations. However a location is not necessarily someones space or place. This is followed by Space, which is a Location, but does not have to be a place. A place can be a space and a location, depending on whether or not it is imaginary.
By these standards, whether or not something is a location, space, or place, all 3 or just 1 depends on the level of emotional attachment.

Location, place,space

By definition, a location is a particular place, a place is a portion of space available for or being used by someone, and a space is a continuous area or expanse that is unoccupied (New Oxford American Dictionary). The difference between the definition of space and the other two words is that it does not contain the word "place." If one was to delve deeper into the meanings of the words location and place, they would find that they go hand in hand with each other. While a location is simply a particular spot or setting, it has the potential to become a place if it is "being used by someone." If someone has any type of emotional attachment to a location then by definition, because it is technically being used by someone, it becomes his or her place.

Location, Space, and Place

A location is a geographical spot on a map. It is of little or no emotional importance; it is simply coordinates of latitude and longitude on a globe, and people feel no attachment to a location. A space is a little harder to define. A space can be inside of a location. For example, it could be a room inside of a hotel you stayed in. People do not form emotional attachments to spaces. When you combine a location and a space and there is an emotional connection, you have a place. The beach you go to every year is not just a location in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is where you have some of the fondest memories and feel the most content or at peace. A place becomes a place because of the people you meet there or the experiences you have there; these things make the place important to you. The physical beauty of the place can also make the place be ingrained into your mind. A place can be a physical location or a place can be a fond memory you just have in your mind. A location is concrete, and place is more abstract.