For those who don't know, collective nouns are words like "family" that refer to a group of things. As I understand it, "stuff" is also a collective noun; that is confirmed by this question.

Essentially, my question is: "Can I say 'my stuff' when referring to a single item that I posses?"

If I can, does this technicality apply to other collective nouns, or just "stuff"?

2 Answers 2


If you are referring to one item in particular, 'thing' would be the word to use, as 'stuff' the noun is used only for a collection of objects.

However, were you to go upstairs and 'grab your stuff' and you came down with a bag, that looks like one thing but there are, in fact, multiple things within that bag - so using 'stuff' there is fine.


I would see no problem with using "my stuff" to refer to a single item, but I think it would be standing as an ellipsis for "any of my stuff," making it actually a partitive phrase. Presumably this same kind of elliptical partitive phrase could work with other collective nouns as well.

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