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There are all kinds of animals: lions, elephants and stuff.

I’m wondering if “stuff” is used correctly in this context, because as far as I know, “stuff” often refers to things, not animals.

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  • There are all kinds of animals: lions, elephants, giraffes etc.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 14 at 13:21
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    You found that online, didn't you? That's how people speak and often online post ressemble speech very closely.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 14 at 13:46
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    An animal is a thing. For example: "What's that thing over there?" ... "It's a lion that escaped from its enclosure. Run!" Commented Jun 15 at 9:32
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    Some alternatives that work in either informal or formal contexts: “lions, elephants and so on,” “lions, elephants and more,” and “lions, elephants and the rest.” More formal: “lions, elephants and such,” “lions, elephants and the like.”
    – Davislor
    Commented Jun 15 at 16:13

4 Answers 4

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People use stuff in pretty much whatever way they please. That said, it is used a lot. And yes, it is used correctly and idiomatically and colloquially in the sample sentence.

Adults also use it: "There was a lot of stuff I didn't agree with". Often as a synonym for things.

It is often associated with younger speakers and children. It can stand in for something in a list or it can be used instead of a verbal phrase, as seen below.

Here's a young person in Britain talking about herself:

“So I’m using personal experience about my mum and dad and the war, and how they’d never, ever wish it on anybody and stuff. A lot of people told me to rehearse it - to get it right, word for word. I disagree. A topic like this, you can’t learn it off by heart - it has to come from the heart.”

TES Magazine_Speak Out Challenge

So, the sample sentence /There are all kinds of animals: lions, elephants and stuff./ just sounds like the speaker could not think of another zoo animal at that moment. Also, it is often put on the end of a list or with another word when you can't think of another word (see the Cambridge entry given by Mari-Lou A).

"They were mean and stuff". (Funny thing, I wrote it then googled it and found it. Haha)

Stuff is a very useful word in the real world of daily conversational speech.

Here's a Quora post from a young woman using the word stuff:

In the middle of crisis.

There was always this one cat that hung out in my building but at that time I was anti-cat. I had certain assumptions about them. I always thought they were mean and stuff but this one cat made me change the way i looked at them.

I was having a hard time with college and family among other things. I used to take some time out before going home and hang out downstairs in my building. She used to hang out with me! Just sit by me or come and meow about stuff.

stuff used in post on Quora

About learners using the word stuff as explained above. Well, when I was in my second year in France, I heard the word môme (the kids: les mômes) used by a lady working during recess at a kindergarden school when she spoke to me. I didn't know the word until that exact moment. So, here's what I think about slang: If you are going to use it, use it right. But don't use it in writing an essay or that kind of thing unless it's used with its standard meaning such as these great examples from the Longman's Dictionary The fact is that knowing when and where to use slang is part of learning to use a language as the speakers of that language use it. I would never tell anyone not to use it.

• the (very) stuff of dreams/life/politics
• Our ideas and hopes for the future are the stuff of life.
• How does a political system handle the incredibly difficult and complicated value allocations that are the stuff of politics?
• But such philosophical dissent, at this point, is the stuff of dreams in a dreamworld.
• Within this realm the stuff of dreams and nightmares can coalesce from the very air.
• This was the stuff of life. Longman's Dictionary

Also, of course, the verb: to stuff something into something.

(Please do not edit my formatting or text, I like it the way it is. Someone tried to delete where I say I would never tell anyone not to use it. I have the right to say that. Please do not change it.)

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It is a very colloquial and rather sloppy use of stuff, but if you wanted to blend in with a group of pre-teen boys in the US, it's just the ticket:

The zoo has all kinds of neat stuff to see, like the hummingbird exhibit, the white leopards, the boa constrictors, especially at feeding time, and the polar bears. There's a thick glass window in the polar bear pool and they swim right up to it. You're about a foot away from their faces.

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  • I really like your example, and "stuff" fits in seamlessly but you are explaining how the OP could insert this word within a passage. You are not answering the question directly.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 14 at 13:20
  • There is a list of animals to observe in a zoo could you tag "stuff" at the end?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 14 at 13:24
  • @Mari-LouA I wouldn't flag it as an unidiomatic use. stuff is a very sloppy word, by which I mean, one that is lacking clearly defined boundaries. If we changed the pre-teens to stoner teenagers, we could substitute "shit" for "stuff": There's all kinds of animals, lions, elephants, and shit. In context, it could mean "et cetera".
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 14 at 14:05
  • And I would say that is rude, wouldn't recommend it to any non-native speakers unless they were very confident speakers and knew to whom they were addressing but it is much more idiomatic, I hear this usage in TV shows quite frequently.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 14 at 14:11
  • @Mari-LouA I'm not recommending anything.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 14 at 14:12
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There are all kinds of animals: lions, elephants, giraffes etc.

This use of etc. which arguably stands for "and other kinds of animals", is acceptable in informal writing and speech. I would not recommend any learner to use stuff for "other people" or "other animals".

“There are all kinds of animals: lions, elephants and stuff”. Look at the examples cited by Cambridge Dictionary below:

and stuff

used to refer to more things of a similar kind to ones you have mentioned, when you do not say exactly what they are:

  • This is the drawer where I keep paper and envelopes and stuff.
  • The classrooms all have computers with interactive whiteboards and stuff.
  • I was embarrassed because he wanted to talk about love and stuff.
  • We can talk about our hobbies and stuff.
  • I know this shirt has tears and stuff, but I love it.

Source: Cambridge Dictionary

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    This should be the accepted answer. The meaning of "and stuff" can't really be understood from the meaning of "stuff", as other answers attempt; "and stuff" is roughly equivalent to "etc." except it is colloquial, extremely informal, and normally would only be used in speech rather than writing. I agree that learners of English as a non-native language should use "et cetera" instead, since "and stuff" could easily give the wrong impression of the speaker.
    – kaya3
    Commented Jun 16 at 12:52
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No, it is not.

You should use 'and others' instead of 'and stuff'.

Animals are living, stuff is inanimate.

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    Strictly speaking it is, but stuff is often used in colloquial speech to refer to inanimate, animate and abstract things. Commented Jun 14 at 14:31
  • I've not heard it used that way in English English. "...and so on" or "...and suchlike" would be more common; "etc." in spoken English English is seen as somewhat highbrow. Commented Jun 15 at 6:21

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