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I've been told that stuff is not countable since that I cannot say one stuff. But which is / are the proper forms for using the "stuff" word?

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Plenty of uses here – Nico Feb 26 '14 at 15:09
@Nico: really strange and interesting.. it's also not possible to say "some stuff"? – Revious Feb 26 '14 at 15:13
for example, from the Arabian Nights: "So I took some stuff, and made some of my servants carry it, and proceeded until I arrived at the Bezestein of Chaharkass, where the brokers came to me, having heard my arrival, and took from me the stuff, and cried it about for sale [...]" – Nico Feb 26 '14 at 15:19
The singular of "stuff" would be "thing". ;) – starsplusplus Feb 26 '14 at 15:43
The singular of "stuff" would be "a piece of stuff" (Ngram). But use "thing" instead if it's appropriate. – Peter Shor Feb 26 '14 at 19:45
up vote 7 down vote accepted

"Stuff" is not countable. You can say "some stuff" or "lots of stuff" or "a bunch of stuff". But you can't say "one stuff" or "two stuffs". Just like you can't say "one dirt" or "two dirts".

"Stuff" is a very informal and vague word. It is generally used to refer to vague, undefined things. Like, "There was a lot of stuff in the room". Or, "What did you do in school today, son?" "Oh, we did a bunch of stuff."

What are you trying to say by "one stuff"? If you are able to count something, you can probably be more concrete. Like, "There was one box of paper on the shelf" as opposed to WRONG "There was one stuff on the shelf".

If the objects you are referring to are unknown but countable, you can use a general word like "things" or "items". Like, "There was one thing on the shelf."

Note that "stuff" should not generally be used in formal writing. For example, you would not write, "We diluted the solution to 100 grams per milliliter, then added nitrogen sulfate. Some stuff fell out." It would be much more common to say, "A white precipitate was produced." or something of that sort. (That said, occasionally technical writers will use the word "stuff" in a whimsical way. I recall reading an astronomy book that referred to the chemicals making up stars as "star stuff".)

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"Star Stuff" is usually attributed to Carl Sagan. – swbarnes2 Feb 26 '14 at 20:09
I've heard a non-native speaker use "stuff" in the same way we use "thing". He said, "One guy has a stuff, and another guy has some other stuffs..." – Almo Feb 26 '14 at 22:03
@almo I don't doubt that someone somewhere said that, but it is not the way the vast majority use the word. – Jay Feb 27 '14 at 5:19
It was not my intention to say it's ok to say this. I only related a funny anecdote. I thought that was obvious because I said "a non native speaker" said it, meaning it's not really the way it's meant to be used. – Almo Feb 27 '14 at 13:39
@almo Ah. Glad I didn't go into a long rant, then. – Jay Feb 27 '14 at 14:07

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