content or contents (when referring to both at the same time)

meijin

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi, please imagine yourself attending a seminar or something right now and looking at the following photos displayed on a large screen.








The speaker says,
"Please look at these photos. They all show the content(s) of the package."

Now, should the speaker say "content" or "contents"? The chocolates seem "contents" to me while the flour seems "content" (uncountable). Is the mouse a countable "content"?

Anyway, since both content and contents are in the photos, should the speaker give up using the word "content(s)" and instead say, for example,
"They all show what's inside the package"?
 
  • Chacraft3

    Member
    Russian
    Hi, please imagine yourself attending a seminar or something right now and looking at the following photos displayed on a large screen.








    The speaker says,
    "Please look at these photos. They all show the content(s) of the package."

    Now, should the speaker say "content" or "contents"? The chocolates seem "contents" to me while the flour seems "content" (uncountable). Is the mouse a countable "content"?

    Anyway, since both content and contents are in the photos, should the speaker give up using the word "content(s)" and instead say, for example,
    "They all show what's inside the package"?
    The chocolates seem content - an adjective also the flour seems content
    The situations when you say as plural :
    "Upend the box and empty the contents " or "The contents of the deed were falsely stated. " and the following.
    They all show the contents of the package. Surely, you can say "They all show what's inside the package"? but does it look eloquence?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You can use either, but contents is more common (in BE anyway) for what's inside a pack, whereas content is used for what's in a TV programme, on a website, etc.

    In your examples, I would use contents unless stating the amount of flour, when it would sound perfectly natural to say that the content of the pack was 2 kg (or whatever).
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The pictures are of the contents. That thing or those things that are literally inside something. It is used in the plural regardless of the number of items inside.

    "Look at the size of the box! And do you know what the contents were? One small button!"

    Content (uncountable) is usually used to describe the totality or essence of an idea or concept or other abstract.

    "The content of your argument seems to be that the earth revolves around the sun."
    "Despite the film being three hours long, the plot had almost no realistic content."
     
    Last edited:

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you all very much for the replies. I see. That's good to know.
    So, if I was in an electronics store shopping for a mouse and wanted to see the thing inside the package, I would ask like
    "Excuse me, can I see the contents of this? I mean.....the mouse." (contents = mouse)
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You could, although it would be rather a strange thing to say. As Chacraft suggests, it would be more natural to ask if you could see "what's inside" the pack.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Yes, it's actually me who suggested "what's inside" first. But I just wanted to see if "contents of this" (referring to the mouse) would work.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    As I said, it would sound a little odd (especially if the mouse was the one in your picture, which is clearly visible without opening the pack!). It's not incorrect. You could ask to see the contents of a pack. But it's probably not how most people would put it.

    However, I suppose someone might say of a large plain box, let's open it up and inspect the contents.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    As I said, it would sound a little odd
    Yes, that's what I learned from your reply. So, thank you very much. :)

    (especially if the mouse was the one in your picture, which is clearly visible without opening the pack!)
    Yes, if the product was displayed with the lid open like that in the store. I was imagining it being closed and sealed.
    (It's also good to know that in BE you call that kind of container a "pack", not "package".)
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    (It's also good to know that in BE you call that kind of container a "pack", not "package".)
    Yes, I realised that as I used it.

    Thinking about it…… if the postman delivered something you'd ordered online, you would call what he handed you a package, not a pack. But when you took the product out, you would describe its outer packaging as the pack, not the package. For instance, you might ask someone: What does it say on the pack?
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top