Confusing words – Stuff and things

What stuff? What things?


In today’s 10 minute lesson we are going to look at 2 very confusing words, “stuff and things” and also talk about being vague.


vague (adj.) – unclear because someone does not give enough detailed information or does not say exactly what they mean.

In English, native speakers occasionally use words that are not precise, clear or exact. A good way to describe words like these is to say they are vague.

Have you ever heard someone say. . .
I have a vague memory about the incident. (It means they can remember some of it but not everything.) or

I have a vague idea where the coffee shop is. (This means that the speaker knows the area, but not the exact location of the coffee shop.) or

I vaguely(adv) remember going to the concert last year. (This means the speaker remembers some of the concert that they went to but not all.)


Stuff is used in an informal way to speak about nouns, when it is not necessary to give the exact name. 

I will never eat that stuff, it looks disgusting. (food)
Leave all the stuff on the kitchen counter, I will sort it out later. (things)
I don’t use any special stuff to treat my hair. (hair products)


Thing(s) is used to refer to facts, actions and other things.

The main thing to remember is to smile when you speak to customers. (fact)
Lying to the boss was a terrible thing to do. (action)
What’s that thing doing in my house? (item/animal/a person who you dislike)
How are things at the office? (in general)
Things are going really well. (in general)

Confused yet? Lets try


What could ‘things’ or ‘stuff ‘ mean in these sentences:

1.I should never have drunk that stuff, it gave me a headache.

2.We don’t need these things to eat with; we can use plastic forks.

3.What is that white stuff called that you put in the coffee?

4.This is a wonderful thing to keep the children busy.

5.I could not get anymore stuff into my briefcase. It is packed to capacity.

6.It’s really good stuff; it makes my skin feel so soft and smooth.

7. That stuff you gave me was amazing, the table leg is all fixed.

8. Make sure you take all your things when you leave the office tonight.

Please leave me your answers if you would like marked.

That’s it for today folks. I hope you enjoyed the lesson. See you back here really soon.


Note: I have adapted my 10 minute lessons from lesson plans I use with my students live online. Classes are 50 minutes long and can be done 1-1 or in small groups. For more information please visit my website or if you would like a free demo please register here.

2 thoughts on “Confusing words – Stuff and things

  1. Pingback: Recap of Resources and Interesting Blog Posts – 7 March 2013 | Stop Complaining – Enjoy Teaching!

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