Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Commonwealth and State

Commonwealth vs State

A commonwealth is defined as a noun which refers to a body of people which is politically organized under a single government. It may also refer to a federation or group of states with common interests and objectives. It is a territory which is occupied and governed by people of a certain nation. An example is the British Commonwealth which is composed of several nations which are colonies or are former colonies of the British Empire such as Australia and New Zealand.

In the United States, four states are also referred to as commonwealths aside from its associated territories which include Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands which are also called commonwealths. The four states which are officially called commonwealths are Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, and Massachusetts. They are not referred to officially as states, a term which refers to territories which are occupied and controlled by the government of a certain nation. A state also refers to a group of politically organized people under a government such as those that comprise the United States of America.

The United States of America is composed of fifty states and several territories, but four of these states and two territories are officially called commonwealths although there is really no difference between the four commonwealths and the other states. Kentucky, Virginia, and Massachusetts were the hotbeds of revolution, taking pride in their fight against British rule. They departed from the Union and adapted the name “commonwealth” to show the difference in government.

When the United States of America was formed they, together with Kentucky, retained their title as commonwealths instead of adopting the term “states.” Although called by another name, they enjoy the same privileges as the other states.

The case of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, on the other hand, is a totally different matter. Citizens of these two commonwealth territories, although U.S. citizens, have no voting representation in Congress and are not allowed to vote in the Presidential elections. Although they pay Social Security taxes and are eligible for federal welfare, the U.S. Internal Revenue Code does not apply to them. These differences, though, are the result of their being territories or limited partners with the USA and not because of their status as commonwealths.


1.A commonwealth is a politically organized body of people which is under one government while a state is a territory which is controlled and governed by a particular nation.
2.Examples of commonwealths are the members of the British Commonwealth like Australia and New Zealand and the four states of the USA composed of Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, and Massachusetts while examples of states are the other 46 states of the USA like Alaska and California.
3.Some associated territories of the USA are also called commonwealths, but none are called states because they do not enjoy all the privileges that other states have.
4.The four states which are officially called commonwealths retained the title they had when they departed from the Union rather than adopt the title of “state.”

Sharing is caring!

Search DifferenceBetween.net :

Email This Post Email This Post : If you like this article or our site. Please spread the word. Share it with your friends/family.


  1. “Kentucky, Virginia, and Massachusetts were the hotbeds of revolution, taking pride in their fight against British rule.”

    So Pennsylvania was not a hotbed of revolution??? C’mon !!?? I think you meant to say Pennsylvania instead of Kentucky as the latter was not even a state in 1776.

    Read more: Difference Between Commonwealth and State | Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/politics/difference-between-commonwealth-and-state/#ixzz4ifYU7nVs

  2. I think you meant ‘British Empire’ instead of ‘union’ in the body & in summary point 4(?).

  3. My husband is Rich and he’s been cheating on me for a long time I have a brain tumor and he wants to leave me with nothing I live in Kentucky can he do this we’ve been married seven years together 9 I’m really worried about the Commonwealth can you explain explain to me how the separation will go he says I will get nothing he’s trying to scare me I need some advice

    • First consultation is free so see a lawyer immediately. He’ll end up paying for it all anyway – he wants the divorce. So don’t give him any grounds. But I’m sure he’s bluffing… Just trying to scare you, so see a lawyer!

    • Oh my god you poor thing you need to apply for disability you will get approved and not have to worry about your fucked up husband you really shouldn’t stress with a brain tumor and he should be a man and help you you were the ultimate best friends wtf…I don’t know how he could do that but he must be going to hell

      • He is lying to you. You own everything jointly. You can take money out of the bank or sign his name. You can sell anything from the house you wish. House and automobiles require both signatures or of person name title in. He has to give you half if he sells either between time of separation and divorce.

    • hello Kathryn Gilkey do they have bail bonds in Kentucky

  4. Actually states are not part of a nation, places like Great Britain can count as a state. A nation classifies a cultural similarity, A state classifies having a government.

  5. This makes no sense and doesn’t even have accurate information. Kentucky didn’t become a state until 1792. Also if they departed from the union then that means their not part of the us. They are their own country. So… which is it? They are or they are not part of the us ? And the response I expect is from the one who wrote this.

  6. I have to agree with Cory Levine, I got absolutely nothing from this definition….(not pointing any fingers) but…if this is the official “DEFINITION”…. what other… LIE’S am I suppose to swallow.?

  7. “According to USLegal:

    A commonwealth is a free state, or republic, characterized by a representative government. The states of the United States may each be considered commonwealths. Four states in the United States designate themselves commonwealths: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The term is often used to describe the government of Great Britain.

    The British Commonwealth is a voluntary association of former British colonies, dependencies and other territories – and Mozambique, which has no historical ties to Britain. It comprises 53 independent countries, representing around 30% of the world population, and serves to foster international cooperation and trade links between people around the world.”

  8. It’s an interesting conversation, as the notates on Commonwealth. Example. The Marine Corps began in 1775, A offshoot of the Royal Navy. The Independence from England occurred in 1776, it wasn’t the U.S until years later. Each Commonwealth carries it’s own Constitution. Another issue in U.S. history is where all of this began. It wasn’t Philadelphia, it was Yorktown ,Pa. The first White House, Mint, directoriates of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights ratified there , the first date of Thanksgiving designated, The first National currency and Banking Interstate, as to that point currency was issued each state for that state and able to be used for payment within said boundaries of said State.

  9. Commonwealths may have more autonomy and laws specific to the county level whereas states have more overreaching control.

Leave a Response

Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Articles on DifferenceBetween.net are general information, and are not intended to substitute for professional advice. The information is "AS IS", "WITH ALL FAULTS". User assumes all risk of use, damage, or injury. You agree that we have no liability for any damages.

See more about :
Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Finder