Needing to do A Few Things
A reader writes:
My son is driving me crazy!!!! He consistently says ” I need to do a few stuff. ” I reply that he should properly say ” I need to do a few things ” or ” I need to do some stuff “. I know my options are fine, but my question is whether his version is also proper. Please help us !!
Before this reader’s question I was blissfully unaware of the expression “a few stuff.” I’ve tried to track it down. It brought up 2,070,000 Google hits, such things as:
Even if I’m leaving my flat in one week, for the next two weeks, I shall buy a few stuff on saturday.
Hi just need to rant about a few stuff…
I haven’t been able to trace a dialect origin for this nonstandard construction. The only uses of it I’ve found so far are in amateurish blogs and reader comments. I assume that it’s an example of teen slang intended to infuriate adult speakers. It certainly pinches my grammar nerve.
As an uncountable noun, stuff originally referred to “quilted material worn under chain mail.” The meaning was extended to mean “material for working in a trade.” The very broad sense of “matter of an unspecified kind” dates from 1580.
To the reader whose son insists on saying “a few stuff,” I can only say that this too shall pass–but probably only if you stop letting your annoyance show.
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