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I have the following sentence:

The contents of those zip files are normally installed from the Setup.

I found I have to use contents instead of content in the sentence. However, do I have to use the contents are or the contents is? I guess it's "are", but it just sounds wrong. (I am a French speaker, and "contenu" is never plural in French, so that might explain why I think "are" is wrong.)

3 Answers 3

12

As you've deduced, you need to use "are" since the subject is plural.

The contents of those zip files are normally installed from the setup.

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  • Is it still plural when dealing with the contents of a single container? E.g. 'The contents of the bag change after the first draw'.
    – il--ya
    Apr 19, 2023 at 2:42
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It's are but your example tricked me at first. I mistakenly thought it was because of files and not because of contents.

The contents of the zip file are normally installed from the Setup.

Is also correct.

"of the zip file" is a prepositional phrase in this scenario, which can be removed from the sentence to test the grammar.

The contents are normally installed from the Setup.

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Contents is perfectly OK with a singular verb. It is a different word from content. It's effectively shorthand for the Contents page. Thus, the contents is all that matters. It should not be thought of as a plural of content.

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  • 2
    While I certainly feel notional agreement is almost always the best option, I'd argue that 'contents' here is a non-count noun unusually (a) plural in form and (b) taking a plural verb-form. I would use 'The contents is missing from my copy of 'Burtonnica', and so is the appendix', but that is a different usage. May 5, 2020 at 17:01

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