Build your English vocabulary: 10 alternative words for “thing”

The word thing is ubiquitous, i.e. it’s everywhere. A good thing, a bad thing, many things, something, anything, everything; we use the word a lot.

And the reason thing is such a common word? Well, it’s a short and quick substitute that we can easily insert into a sentence when we’re unable to think of—or don’t know—the word we need.

So how can we better express ourselves by replacing thing with a more accurate or descriptive word?

Here are ten alternatives we can use:

1. a detail

He told us all the details of his life.
(He told us everything.)

2. a feature

The new Galaxy smartphone has many unique features.
(It has many unique things, many functions.)

3. an item

There are twenty items on the shopping list.
(There are twenty things on the list.)

4. an issue

There are many controversial issues surrounding the building of the shopping centre.
(There are many controversial things about the construction.)

5. a matter

This is very serious – it’s a matter for the police.
(It’s something we should inform the police about.)

10 alternatives to 'a thing'

6. a point

The minister made some good points during his speech.
(He said some valid and interesting things.)

7. a subject

The book covers many subjects.
(It contains many different things.)

8. a topic

The journalist writes about a wide range of topics.
(He writes about different things.)

9. a trait

Kindness and generosity are good traits.
(They are good things in a person’s character.)

10. an attribute

Stamina is a necessary attribute for a long-distance runner.
(Stamina is an essential thing to have.)

Stuart is an English teacher and runs the Speakspeak website. He currently lives in Prague and has been teaching for over 20 years. Follow Stuart and contact him by subscribing to his monthly newsletter.


  1. mai - December 23, 2014, 11:38 pm Reply

    Such a great site I really love it , it’s simple and amusing

  2. douglas walker - October 11, 2017, 1:59 pm Reply

    objective, theme, plots, goals

  3. mya - February 19, 2018, 7:15 pm Reply

    is there a one word to substitute for ”thing”

  4. bill - October 29, 2018, 5:58 pm Reply

    great site to use for writing in class

  5. Anonymous - November 20, 2018, 7:39 am Reply

    thank u …. now i can substitute the word “thing” with lot of things.. 😉

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