I know that things might still be difficult for you, so if you need my help I'm there.

What does "things" mean here? Could I put "everything" instead and it would mean the same?

  • Without more context, it is a generalization of having difficulty with daily tasks. But it does not mean 'Everything'. That can be misunderstood and make 'things' more difficult. Consider this progression: A thing;something; some things; everything.
    – user19179
    Apr 11, 2020 at 1:08
  • @GWarner not really; if someone says ‘it’s bad that things are difficult for you right now’, they don’t mean you have trouble brushing your teeth, walking up the stairs etc. Apr 11, 2020 at 1:11
  • @Fivesideddice daily tasks was a generalization. I wasn't about to single out automomic fuinctions and habits. But this isn't medical advice and I am avoiding outlining or naming any condition that would make things difficult.
    – user19179
    Apr 11, 2020 at 1:17
  • 1
    "I know the situation you are in is a difficult one." Apr 11, 2020 at 8:29

3 Answers 3


"Things" is an idiomatic (American English) way to refer to events or circumstances in someone's life. For example:

  • "How are things?" = "How are you?"
  • "Things are good." = "My job, family, finances, life, etc. are well."
  • "Things are bad." = "I'm not doing well as a result of problems in my life."

It's similar but not quite the same as "everything." If someone says, "Things are bad" (or "good") it doesn't necessarily mean that everything is bad or good, just some things, or things in general. For example:

  • "How are you?"
  • "Oh, things are good. I've been stressed about my final exams, though."
  • "I'm sorry, I hope things go well."

"Things" means ... whatever things are going wrong for this person. It depends on the context. If you said this to a friend whose wife just died, you would be talking about his personal grief. If you said it to a co-worker who was on a project that was behind schedule, you would be talking about the project. Etc.

It's like the word "it". It can refer to almost anything. It depends on the context.


The meaning of this word is defined in the dictionary (in this case Oxford's Lexico):


  1. An action, event, thought, or utterance.
    ‘she said the first thing that came into her head’
    ‘the only thing I could do well was cook’

    3.1. (things) Circumstances or matters that are unspecified.
    ‘things haven't gone entirely to plan’
    ‘how are things with you?’

The meaning is different from everything, because everything does not mean unspecified circumstances or matters.

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