Cloth vs. Clothes – What’s the Difference?

Sometimes, the materials used to make a product have similar names to the end product itself. This is the case with cloth and clothes.

Clothes are made of cloth, but do either of these words have additional meanings? Continue reading to find out.

What is the Difference Between Cloth and Clothes?

In this article, I will compare cloth vs. clothes. I will use each word in an example sentence, so that you can see it in its proper context. Then, I will show you a mnemonic device that you can use to help you remember whether you should use cloth or clothes.

When to Use Cloth

cloth versus clothes grammar What does cloth mean? Cloth, a noun, is a length of fabric used to make garments, blankets, and other items. It can be made of natural fibers, like cotton and wool, or synthetic fibers, like polyester or rayon.

Here are some examples,

  • Kimmy asked Arianna to buy her 32 yards of cloth for her next project.
  • Some cars have cloth-covered seats, while other cars have leather-covered seats.
  • Cloth diapers are less wasteful than disposable diapers, but are also more difficult to clean and probably less sanitary.
  • Warm water and a microfiber cloth (the kind that comes with eyeglasses) are remarkably effective, even for the most diabolical marks. –The Wall Street Journal

Cloth is also an expression that refers to clergy, like in this sentence,

  • Father Timmy was a man of the cloth, and abstained from partaking in champagne on New Year’s Eve.

When to Use Clothes

Definition of clothes definition and definition of cloth definition What does clothes mean? The word clothes is also a noun, but it can also be a present tense verb.

As a noun, clothes are garments worn to cover the body.

For example,

  • My daughter Dana needs new clothes for school every fall because she grows so quickly.
  • The old beggar’s clothes were ragged, and had worn thin in places.
  • The clothes a person wears say much about how that person’s self-perception.
  • One group that has long preserved the distinction, the Vienna Philharmonic, announced on Thursday that it was getting its first change of clothes in decades—suits that can be worn by day or night with small variations. –The New York Times

As a verb, clothes is the third person present tense form of the verb to clothe, which means to provide someone with garments or to dress someone.

For example,

  • The wealthy single mom who lives next door clothes her children with only the most fashionable of name brands.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Define clothes and define clothHere is a helpful trick to remember clothes vs. cloth.

If the word you are using is a verb, you should choose clothe in the first and second person, and clothes in the third person. Cloth is never a verb.

As a noun, clothes refers to finished garments, while cloth refers to fabric, either by itself, unfinished, or as a component of a finished garment.

You can remember that clothes refers to garments since most people wear more than one garment at a time in most societies, and clothes and garments are both plural.


Is it cloth or clothes? Clothes and cloth are both nouns, but only clothes is a verb.

  • Clothes are garments worn to cover the body.
  • Cloth is the fabric used to make garments and other items.
  • As a verb, clothes is the third person present tense of the verb clothe.

You can remember that clothes refers to garments since both clothes and garments are plural.

If you still need help, you can always refer back to this article for a quick refresher.