He can't have good things because, he doesn't look after them.

He can't have nice things because, he doesn't look after them.

In cases like this are nice and good interchangeable?

2 Answers 2


In AmE, nice things is a collocation that refers to items of higher quality which tend to cost more than things which are not very nice.

She has a lot of really nice things in her house.

The phrase good things does not typically have that materialistic sense, but tends to be used of other kinds of benefits:

Patience, kindness, an optimistic disposition—these are all good things.

  • I thought that was "good" the one having that materialistic sense instead of "nice", at least according to the Cambridge Dictionary. I'm wrong and I should remove my answer, am I? [No irony]
    – RubioRic
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 13:45
  • 1
    @Rubio Ric: The dictionary is giving you the meaning of the word good in general contexts: "It's a good car". That is, the car functions well, is reliable, whatever. But the meaning of a word in a collocation can trump the general meaning. Hence, nice things = things that are well made, high quality, stylish, often expensive, not "friendly, behaving pleasantly". good things is not necessarily materialistic and very often it is not, referring to things that have spiritual or emotional or cultural value rather than materialistic, mercantile or functional value.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 14:06
  • I'd be more inclined to say that "nice" means "things [I/he/she/we] like" (which contains higher quality items, but not exclusively)
    – Flater
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 14:48
  • "Things we like" is rather too broad, IMO, for this collocation.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 15:20

In this sentence it would be "nice things", because 'things' here refers to material belongings and the sentence/expression is about their appearance, and not their function. So, for objects you would say "wow that's a nice mug/wallet/purse/etc" and not "wow that's a good mug/wallet/purse/etc", unless maybe you were talking about the function of the object specifically ("this is a really good purse because I can fit all my stuff in it").

Also, "He/she/we can't have nice things" is a common expression, especially on social media these days.

Finally, there's no comma after "because". So the sentence should be

He can't have nice things because he doesn't look after them.

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