UNIT 99 Vague language
 
In spoken English, we often use words that are vague [not clear/precise/exact].

I have a vague idea where it is. [I know the general area, but I don't know exactly where.]

I have a vague memory of the game. [I can remember some of it, but not very clearly.]

A Thing(s)
 
To refer to actions, ideas, and facts:
The main thing [fact] about John is that he likes everything to be well organized.
Hitting that child was a terrible thing [action] to do.

To refer to countable objects (often the speaker and listener know what the object is, or the speaker has forgotten the name of it at the moment of speaking):
What's that thing (bicycle) doing in the house?
Put those things (cups and saucers) in the cupboard.

To refer to a general situation:
How are things at school? [school in general]
Lately, things have been going really well, [life in general]

B Stuff
 
We sometimes use stuff (informal) to refer to uncountable nouns (or a group of countable nouns) when it is not necessary to be precise and give the exact name. Often the listener knows what the speaker is talking about.

Just leave that stuff [different items of clothes]
on the floor. I'll clear it up.
I never use that chemical stuff [laundry detergent] in my machine.

C Kind of / Sort of...
 


The walls are kind of yellow, [not exactly yellow, but similar to yellow]
I'm kind of hungry, [a little bit hungry]
He gets ... uh ... sort of... nervous when you mention the word exams. [a little bit nervous.

A: Did you like the concert? B: Yeah, sort of / kind of.

D Approximately
 
These words have the same meaning, but approximately is more formal than the others:

The train should arrive in approximately twenty minutes.
It's about three miles to the house.
I'll see you around noon.
We are expecting 100 guests, more or less.