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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > city/ town    

city/ town


city/ town
I read somewhere that a town is a place having less that 10000 inhabitants. however, a native speaker told me that towns can also be the places that are not so important and that may have 100 000 inhabitants. Do you have any idea which is ok?

26 Jun 2012      

United States

I īm sure that there is a formal definition, but we don īt use it. I would agree with that native speaker. We use town to mean something smaller or less important than a city. It īs generally a place that īs not very hectic.

26 Jun 2012     


Hi Mirela!
According to Longman dicitonary:


[countable]SGa large area with houses, shops, offices etc where people live and work, that is smaller than a city and larger than a village:
an industrial town in the Midlands
town of
the town of Norwalk, Connecticut
I walked to the nearest town.
He was buried in hishome town (=the town where he was born).
cit‧yS1W1 plural cities [countable]
1a large important town:
New York City
a capital city
The nearest big city was St. Louis.
city dweller (=someone who lives in a city)
inner city
a) British Englisha large town, that has been given an official title by a king or queen :
the city of Oxford
b) American Englisha town of any size that has definite borders and powers that were officially given by the state government:
The city of Cleveland celebrated its 200th birthday with fireworks and an outdoor concert.
3 [usually singular]the people who live in a city:
The city has been living in fear since last week īs earthquake.

the City

British Englishthe area of London which is Britain īs financial centre, and the important institutions there
City banker/stockbroker etc (=a banker etc who works in the city)

the city

American Englishthe government of a city:
The city is working to improve public transportation.

26 Jun 2012     

United States

You wil find lots of places that define village, town , and city by size/population, but in AE common use "town" is generally less important than a city and mostly used in place of village (villages tend to be an area of a town or city in the USA.  In common use town is also sometimes used to refer to large cities (e.g. Tinsel town).
In the US a city can be almost any size, it depends on whether or not it has been legally established as a city.

26 Jun 2012     


Someone told me once that a city must always have a cathedral, but I don īt know if this is the only reason we have.

26 Jun 2012     

United Kingdom

Insofar as I know, you can īt be a city unless you īve got a cathedral! (I īm pretty certain, in England, anyway.)

26 Jun 2012     



 - definition

26 Jun 2012     


We could really go to town on this one
It has many different meanings and this varies amongst the English speaking countries.
In the land dowunder I think we use it far more broadly than our British and American counterparts and our national dictionary simply defines it as "a small group of houses and other buildings thought of as a place, and given a name".  In fact, some towns only have a handful of people living there whilst others have thousands.   It defines a city as "a large or important town; a town so nominated".
However, town usually means rural and suburb is city based.
Only our major cities have cathedrals.  Many of the smaller cities, defined as a city due to population size, don īt have cathedrals.  And, population size is often used to distinguish between town and city terms for local governemnt boundaries.

26 Jun 2012     

United States

 A city is a relatively large and permanent settlement.[1][2] Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law.

For example, in the U.S. state of Massachusetts an article of incorporation approved by the local state legislature distinguishes a city government from a town. In the United Kingdom and parts of the Commonwealth of Nations, a city is traditionally a settlement with a royal charter.[1] Historically, in Europe, a city was understood to be an urban settlement with a cathedral.

For example, in California (my home state) wiki says:
In California, the words "town" and "city" are synonymous by law (see Cal. Govt. Code Secs. 34500-34504). There are two types of cities in California - charter and general law.

27 Jun 2012     


thank u all! u did clarify some aspects here!

27 Jun 2012