(WHTM) — You may have known that Pennsylvania is technically considered to be a commonwealth, but is also known as a state.

So is there a difference between a state and a commonwealth? And why is Pennsylvania considered to be a commonwealth?

According to Merriam-Webster, when using the terms to refer to US states, there is no difference between a state and a commonwealth, and the distinction is only in name alone. There are four commonwealths in the contiguous United States: Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Virginia.

The reason why these states are called commonwealths has to do with their constitutions and also to maintain their British roots, but to indicate they are independent of England. So Pennsylvania chose to be a commonwealth, along with the three other states. Keystoneanswers.com says the word was a show of the state’s devotion to their residents and a sign that the British no longer ruled these colonies, but that the people did.

According to keystoneanswers.com, Pennsylvania has deemed a commonwealth before it was called a state. Pennsylvania didn’t become a state until Dec. 12, 1787. So, technically speaking, it is now both a state and a commonwealth.

Nowadays, Other than its historical significance, “commonwealth” is essentially just a title All the commonwealths that are in the US throw around the words state and commonwealth.