stuff / things

The word thing / things is countable. It refers to specific objects, or a collection of specific objects:

  • There are five things in the box.
  • I forgot my wallet, my phone, and a few other things when I left home today.

    The word stuff can also refer to a general collection of things (usually someone’s possessions), but it is vaguer and also uncountable, meaning there is no plural (no such word as “stuffs”):

  • You need to clean up your bedroom, your stuff is all over the floor. or ( clothes, books, toys, objects, etc.)
  • After the holiday, we put all the Christmas stuff away until the next year. or ( ornaments, decorations, etc.)

    Stuff can also refer to a material – usually when we don’t know exactly what it is:

  • “What’s that white stuff all over the table?”

    “Oh – I spilled some sugar while I was baking a cake.”

  • “I’m not sure what kind of stuff this pillow is made of, but it sure is comfortable.”

    Both things and stuff can be non-physical items as well:

  • There are five things you need to know in order to do this job well. or ( five principles / pieces of information)
  • My history class is so hard! There’s so much stuff the teacher expects us to remember. (= information, facts)
  • I’m proud of you because you did the right thing. (= action)
  • The best thing about this program is that you can study at your own pace. or ( aspect)
  • She’s really stressed out because there’s a lot of stuff going on in her personal life right now. (= difficulties, events, changes)
  • My brother knows a lot about astronomy and stuff like that. (= and

    related/similar topics)

    Finally, stuff can be a verb meaning to push things into a small space:

  • I stuffed a week’s worth of clothes into a tiny backpack.
  • These peppers are stuffed with chicken and cheese.

    (We often use “stuffed” when one type of food is put inside another. There’s also the informal expression “I’m stuffed!” which means “I’m so full of food that I can’t eat any more!”)