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Your English: Word grammar: content

Type: Article

Thanks to Tim Bowen, we’re very content with this word grammar content.

As a noun, content is often used in the plural to mean ‘the things that are inside something’, as in ‘The entire contents of the house were put up for auction’, or ‘the things that are written in a book, magazine, document etc’, as in ‘You’ll find it listed on the contents page’.

Used in the singular, content can refer to the subject, ideas or story that a piece of writing or a TV or radio programme deal with, as in ‘The show’s content is not suitable for young children’. It can also refer to the amount of a substance that something contains, as in ‘Many muesli bars were found to have an exceptionally high sugar content’.

As an adjective, content cannot be used in pre-nominal position and means ‘happy and satisfied with your life’ or ‘satisfied and willing to accept a situation’, as in ‘When I last saw her, she seemed quite content’ or ‘He seems to be content with a fairly minor role in the government’.

The adjective contented is used in pre-nominal position with the same meaning as the first definition of content, as in ‘It is hard to imagine a more contented family anywhere’.

Content can also be used as a verb, although it is almost exclusively used in the reflexive verb form content oneself with, meaning ‘to be willing to accept what you have, although you would prefer to have something else’, as in ‘The band have no intention of reforming, so fans will have to content themselves with the reissued recordings’.

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