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I know that "stuff" is a collective noun, but other collective nouns like "family" can be pluralized, but "stuffs" doesn't sound quite right to me. However, the spell check on my browser says that "stuffs" is a word.

If "stuffs" is correct, why does it sound wrong to me? If it isn't, then why is it different from other collective nouns?

  • It is right. "Stuffs" is the plural of "Stuff". As to why it sounds wrong to you - I have no idea. What do you mean by different? – user63241 May 5 '14 at 2:30
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    It happens in compound like foodstuffs; by itself it looks like a singular present tense verb. – John Lawler May 5 '14 at 2:39
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    It sounds wrong to me too. I don't know why, maybe because you are already tired after saying 'stuff' and you have to put that extra effort at the end saying 's'. – The very fluffy Panda May 5 '14 at 2:40
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    Your spell-check doesn't dislike it because it is a valid verb tense: "John stuffs Twinkies at the factory for a living." – cobaltduck Aug 4 '16 at 15:33
  • Some Googling suggests stuffs as a noun (by itself) is either in very short usage or just plain wrong. I would avoid it. – person27 Sep 10 '17 at 21:40
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There are several cases where collective nouns are pluralized. "Fish" can mean one fish or several fish, but "fishes" usually refer to groupings of different types of fish - so it's a pluralization of the collective, not of the singular.

This could be generalized to this case as well. "Stuff" is a collective noun, but "stuffs" would probably be understood to mean distinctly separated groups of stuff.

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Stuffs on it's own is really a verb but if you type "define stuff" in Google and expand the definition of the noun part you'll find one mention of it as a plural one's stuffs it still doesn't sound right though.

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"Stuffs" as a noun is incorrect. The reason it is different from other collective nouns is because it is also a mass noun. Words like rice, water, smoke, and cement are all mass nouns (or uncountable nouns). You could say "several piles of stuff" to make it plural, but not "several stuffs."

As others have said, "stuffs" is also a verb (present tense singular), so the spellchecker won't count it wrong. Hopefully, a good grammar checker would.

Reference: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/stuff

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It's a word, as in "the CIA operative covertly stuffs the Ukrainian ballot box", but I don't think you can correctly say "my dorm is full of all kinds of interesting stuffs". It "sounds" kind of Asian, like "equipments".

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    That's a bit assumptive. Why asian, specifically, might I ask? – jimsug May 5 '14 at 4:56
  • @jimsug Just personal experience. I've heard "equipments" from Japanese business partners, and "stuffs" from Chinese colleagues. Chinese nouns don't generally have different forms for plural, so it is difficult for native speakers of Chinese to get it right in English, and I believe most Japanese nouns are similar. Just as I butcher tones in Chinese and get the gender wrong in Spanish. – Spehro Pefhany May 5 '14 at 5:04
  • @SpehroPefhany Yes, nouns are unmarked for number in Japanese. – snailcar May 5 '14 at 5:20
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Stuffs is a verb. "He stuffs his backpack with clothes." Stuffs is not considered correct English as a noun. It doesn't seem to have utility since it is covered by "stuff".

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I say the plural 'stuffs' is as much a word as any other. I say stuffs a lot, which is the plural of stuff, even though stuff already refers to a collection of (plural) things. However, I do say stuffs a lot for fun. Maybe I can make it a legitimate word in the dictionary.

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