General Writing and Grammar Help/Clothes - clothing

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Question
Dear Ted:

I don't know when I should use "clothes" and when "clothing."

Would you please give me some examples?

Also, are there any cases in which the two words can be interchanged?

Again, many, many thanks for your kind help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

I don't know when I should use "clothes" and when "clothing."

*** You are like everyone else.  There is no real difference between the two.  Most people think that "clothing" is a more formal word.  I tend to agree with them.

Would you please give me some examples?

Also, are there any cases in which the two words can be interchanged?

*** They can always be interchanged, but there might be sentences that would sound awkward, even though them are grammatically correct.

EXAMPLES:

I plan to buy some items at the CLOTHING store.  [You can use "clothes," but, in my opinion, "clothing" sounds better.

The beggar's clothing/clothes needed cleaning and repairing.

Many businessmen take very good care of their clothing/clothes, but they neglect to shine their shoes.

The phrase "clothes horse" applies to someone who is constantly thinking about clothing.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

Expertise

I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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