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Clothes vs. Cloths: a Lesson with Drawings to Show the Difference

Two commonly confused words in the English language are “clothes” vs. “cloths.” Mixing them up can be awkward indeed, as these cartoons will soon illustrate!

Let’s learn the correct spelling and situations for using each, since they have different definitions and pronunciations. Because I’m both an English teacher and an artist, I’m hoping my combination of cute drawings and explanations will help this lesson stick happily in your memory.

Clothes spelling
Clothes spelling is important so you’re not just wearing scraps!

Definition and Spelling of “Clothes”

The word “clothes” is either a noun meaning garments a person can wear (like a dress, T-shirt, or pants), or a verb meaning to put clothing on someone or something. It is pronounced: “klowthz.” Here are some examples:

“Clothes” Example Sentences as a Noun

“The colorful clothes I’m wearing today match the clothes my pet octopus is wearing. We both have on neon pink shirts with orange stripes!”

“Want to know about the coolest new clothes? My friend’s company makes adult leggings with pockets that have dinosaurs on them!”

“Clothes” Example Sentences as a Verb

“The mother always clothes her children in bright yellow so that if they wander away, she can spot them easily — or ask people, ‘Have you seen a kid wearing a ridiculously bright yellow dress?'”

Cloths vs clothes
If you’re “wearing cloths,” that’s just awkward pieces of fabric!

Definition and Spelling of “Cloths”

Unlike “clothes,” the word “cloths” is always a noun, and its definition is: pieces of fabric or cloth, such as squares made of woven or knit cotton fibers. Cloths are often used for cleaning or wiping down surfaces, such as dishcloths, which are used to dry dishes. “Cloths” is pronounced: “kloTHS” — different than “clothes.”

“Cloths” Example Sentences

“Grab those cloths over there and help me wipe the spilled coffee from the floor, will you?”

“We can cut up those old, ratty clothes to make cloths to use as blankets for our new gerbil.”

“The cloths on sale at that fabric store are gorgeous! Can we buy that large rectangle of purple cloth and sew a princess dress?”

(Want some other commonly confused words? Check out “lier or liar” and the ever-confusing “weary vs. wary!”)

Clothes vs cloths
Clothes vs. cloths, illustrated!

Clothes vs. Cloths, in Sum

Whether “clothes” or “cloths” is correct depends on the context — or surrounding sentence you’re making. The big difference in definition between the two words is that “clothes” are finished, ready-to-wear garments (clothing), while “cloths” are just rectangles of fabric that could be used to clean, wipe, or make something. I wouldn’t recommend trying to wear cloths — it gets kind of drafty.

I hope you enjoyed this “clothes” vs. “cloths” lesson. What English lessons would you like to see illustrated next by my cartoons?

Want more commonly confused words? Check out “Dessert vs. Desert,” “Spell Rhythm,” “Hair or Hairs,” and “Loose vs. Lose!”

See Colorful CLOTHES I Designed: