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What is the difference between an item of clothing and a piece of clothing? Can I say "three pieces of clothing" or "three items of clothing"? Are they used identically?

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    They mean the same thing. In American English, "item of clothing" sounds very stuffy and formal, and would not be used in colloquial speech. It might be used on invoices. For questions like these on the basics of English, I recommend you ask on English Language Learners. – Dan Bron Apr 16 '15 at 11:36
  • There are 2 questions hiding here: one (in the title and the tag) is about Uncountable nouns, while the other (in the main body) is about Difference between items & pieces. I have answer both below. – Prem Apr 16 '15 at 12:23
  • With @Hellion changing the question , my comments and my answer do not make sense. I will have to delete my answer. – Prem Apr 16 '15 at 13:25
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    @Prem it's clear that the OP knows that clothing is normally a mass/uncountable noun, otherwise the sentences would have been: "Three clothings". The OP is asking about the difference in meaning and usage between item and piece. That is the real question. :) However, you can modify your answer, you can leave it as it is, for the benefit of future visitors, or you can keep it deleted. There's nothing "wrong" in fine-tuning an answer. – Mari-Lou A Apr 16 '15 at 18:07
  • You might also consider articles of clothing, or simply garments. – Steven Littman Apr 16 '15 at 23:50
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There is no difference; "piece" and "item" are merely different counters used with clothing. Note that "article" is also used.

So the statements

. . . three pieces of clothing
. . . three items of clothing
. . . three articles of clothing

are functionally the same.

  • There are 2 questions hiding here: one (in the title and the tag) is about Uncountable Nouns, while the other (in the main body) is about Difference between Items & Pieces . . . {{ Recommenting here, in case you did not get notifications about my earlier comment }} – Prem Apr 16 '15 at 13:19
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It depends on the situation... Usually, they are interchangeable, but there are cases where this is not so. If, for example, you were talking about a murder:

"These blood-soaked items of clothing...", would refer to complete garments - while "These blood-soaked pieces of clothing..." would be parts of a garment that were ripped or cut off.

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