1 used instead of the name of an object
ADJ. basic, essential I need to buy a few basic things like bread and milk.
VERB + THING make He makes things out of wood.
2 things: objects/clothing/tools
ADJ. swimming, tennis, etc. | breakfast, lunch, etc. He hadn't washed up the dinner things yet.
VERB + THING get together, pack Come on kids, get your things together?we're going. | put on, take off Hang on a second?I'll just take off my painting things (= clothes). | clear away/up, put away, tidy away/up Clear your painting things (= materials) away.
3 (used with negatives) anything
VERB + THING hear, know, notice, see I can't see a thing without my glasses. | miss I'm going to arrive early, because I don't want to miss a thing. | do She's tricked you, and you can't do a thing about it. | eat I haven't eaten a thing all day. | say Nobody said a thing when he appeared with a wig on. | mean Fame and fortune don't mean a thing if you don't have happiness.
ADJ. good, great, positive It's a good thing you remembered to turn off the gas! The best thing would be to apologize straight away. If she works hard she's capable of great things. Try to look on your rejection as a positive thing. | lovely, nice, wonderful | bad, negative Too much studying can be a bad thing. It's no bad thing to express your anger. | appalling, awful, dreadful, horrible, terrible That was a horrible thing to say to her. | amazing, curious, exciting, extraordinary, funny, interesting, remarkable, startling, strange, striking, surprising, weird The amazing thing is, he wouldn't accept any money! | ridiculous | frightening, worrying | annoying | foolish, silly, stupid I admit it was a foolish thing to do. | bloody (taboo), damn/damned | crucial, key, main, important, vital The key thing is to remain calm. | little, the slightest, small, trivial I give thanks for every little thing. He loses his temper at the slightest thing. It's such a small thing to ask. | easy Apologizing is never the easiest thing to do. | hard | brave, dangerous, risky | natural Entertaining people is the most natural thing in the world for her. | close, close-run I managed to get on the train, but it was a close-run thing (= I almost missed it). | rare | everyday She helped with the everyday things like shopping and cooking. | usual I did my usual thing of losing my keys. | nearest, next best He's the nearest thing to a film star I've ever met. I wanted to be a musician, but teaching music is the next best thing. | real It's just a practice, not the real thing. | the whole Let's forget the whole thing. | last The last thing she wanted was to upset her parents.
QUANT. loads, lots, plenty I've got loads of things to do today.
VERB + THING do He has a funny way of doing things. It's impossible to get things done when you're looking after a baby. | make up, say Who's been saying things about me? | be hearing/imagining/seeing There's nobody at the door?you must have been imagining things!
THING + VERB go on, happen, occur There are some weird things going on in that house. A funny thing happened to me this morning …
PREP. ~ about The best thing about Alan is he's always honest.
PHRASES among/amongst other things Amongst other things, I have to deal with mail and keep the accounts. | have better things to do I've got better things to do than stand here chatting all day! | kind/sort of thing They go canoeing, climbing, that sort of thing. | know/learn/teach sb a thing or two Jack knows a thing or two about kids?he's got five. | no such thing There's no such thing as ghosts (= they don't exist). | such a thing/a thing like that People defraud their companies every day, but Mike would never do such a thing! | a thing of the past Books may one day become a thing of the past.
5 things: general situation, as it affects sb
VERB + THING think over/through She's taken a few days off to think things over. | look at, see Try to look at things from my point of view. | discuss, talk over, talk through We arranged to meet and talk things over. | explain | accept You should suggest changes, rather than accept things as they are. | change | arrange, deal with, handle, look after, run, sort out Who's going to look after things while you're away? I want to get things sorted out before I go away. | straighten out | mess up, spoil | patch up They patched things up a week after their quarrel. | speed along/up It might speed things up if you phone them. | delay, hold up, slow down
THING + VERB stand As things stand at present, he seems certain to win. | be going He asked me how things were going. | change | go (according) to plan, go well, work (out) I just don't know if things are going to work out. | get better, improve, look up We were in trouble but now things are looking up. | look bright/good/promising/rosy There was a week to go to the deadline and things were looking good. | look bleak/grim Things looked bleak for the future of the factory. | be in/get into a mess, get out of hand, get/run out of control, go wrong | get worse, go downhill | turn out I'm sure things will turn out OK. | come to a head Things came to a head when money was found to be missing from the account. | get to sb Try not to let things get to you.
PHRASES all/other things being equal All other things being equal, the bigger fighter should win. | all things considered All things considered, I think we've done a good job. | get/keep things going/moving They hired temporary staff to keep things going over the summer. | get/put things straight I marched into his office to get a few things straight. | have/keep things in hand/under control He offered to help, but she assured him she had things in hand. | have things on your mind We chatted about school, but I could tell she had other things on her mind. | let things slide/slip She'd started the term studying hard, but now was beginning to let things slip. | let things take their course/happen Don't worry about it?just let things take their course. | make things better, easier, difficult, worse, etc. Her apology only served to make things worse. | put things right He apologized, and asked for a chance to put things right. | things to come The pay cut was just a taste of things to come.
6 what is needed/socially acceptable
ADJ. proper, right He did the right thing and went back to his wife. I did all the right things but I couldn't get the engine to start. | wrong She always manages to say the wrong thing. | logical, obvious, prudent, sensible Calling a doctor seemed the logical thing to do. | decent, done, honourable He did the decent thing and resigned. It's not the done thing to ask someone how much they earn. | very Iced tea?the very thing!
VERB + THING do | say
PHRASES just the thing, not quite the thing It wouldn't be quite the thing to turn up in running gear.
7 a person/an animal
ADJ. little, old The baby's a pretty little thing. | silly | poor You must be starving, you poor thing!