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What's the difference between these words? It seems to me that вещь is more abstract than штука, except when we talk about furniture or clothing. Is this correct. The old meaning of штука is часть so maybe it retains the meaning of a whole thing, whereas вещь is just a substance, idea, concept, etc (from вещество)?

Could somebody give some examples to clarify the difference?

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    You are not far from the truth, refer to Matt's answer. But I'd like to point out one thing :) Even though "вещь" is quite close to "thing", the Russian equivalent is not supposed to be used as often as is common in English. My sentence above could be translated "я бы хотел упомянуть одну вещь"; this is acceptable, but is considered a poor style and is often a calque from English. In Russian you can say "я бы хотел упомянуть однo", or better in this case "...вот что". Another usage: "there are two things in the list" -> "в списке два предмета" (две позиции, два пункта; something specific). – Zeus Nov 22 '16 at 3:12
  • Вещь can also mean a piece of clothes. Вещи - lots of clothes. Штука can also mean smths funny or extraordinary a person can do. Я тебе сейчас одну штуку покажу! – Kate Nov 29 '16 at 10:16
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If we omit several totally different meanings which these word may have (e.g. "штука" = slang "thousand", "вещь" = "work of art" etc.) then "вещь" stands for "a thing" in a wide sense (although note that sometimes word "предмет" is preferred over "вещь"), while "штука" denotes a countable item. So usually the word "штука" is used along with a numeral.

Probably the source of your confusion is the fact that in a live speech people may use word "штука" as synonym for "вещь" (thing). But such usage is considered a colloquialism.

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Those words have slightly different meanings. 1. Word "штука" and its derivatives "штучка", "штуковина" means basically "thing", and usually is used when author do not know correct term for the thing e.g. name of tool or a part of machinery: "Я взял у него эту штуку". It also means "piece" in "3 штуки" (3 pieces). 2. "Вещь" is more formal and beside of main meaning "thing" has couple of others: "piece of clothing", "work of art"

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