Content or contented and contently or contentedly, which one do you use? That’s an excellent question and one that needs some clarification because there’s such a fine line between all four of these interchangeable words and their meanings. So much so that they are often confused, and that confusion sometimes goes unnoticed. So, buckle up as I break it down.
A Look at Content
So, first, let’s get the details straight around the root word content. It has two meanings, depending on how you pronounce it. Con-tent with stress on the first syllable means the materials inside something, like the contents of a container. You can also use it to describe material found on the web as “content on the internet,” a table of contents in a book, or even the alcohol content in beer.
But, when you put emphasis on the second syllable, cun-tent, then you’re talking about the feeling of being really happy or satisfied.
What Is the Meaning of Contently?
Contently in its simple form is an adverb we use to describe how someone is doing something. It means that whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it in a satisfied manner.
Here’s an example:
She worked on her project.
But how did she work on it?
She worked contently on her project.
Contentedly vs. Contently: What’s the Difference?
I know, contently and contentedly probably seem interchangeable, and that’s because they are! You can do something contentedly and contently, and both work within most contexts and mean you’re satisfied with how something is going.
- I enjoyed the silence and wrote my book contently. (This shows that I was content when writing.)
- I enjoyed the silence and wrote my book contentedly. (This shows that I wrote in a contented way.)
Is Contented a Word?
Yes, contented is totally a word! It’s an adjective, and it means to be satisfied or pleased with something.
Is It Content or Contented?
Again, both of these terms can be used interchangeably…most of the time. If you place it before a noun, use the word contented. In any other instance, you can and should use content as it’s more widely accepted.
- She was content with reading her book.
- She was contented with reading her book.
Both sentences are correct and show how the person felt when reading. However, if I were to say, “She was a content person reading her book,” that doesn’t sound right, does it? Because you’re putting it before the noun person. So, in this case, you’d say, “She was a contented person reading her book.”
Sentence Examples Using Content and Contented
- I felt content and unjudged after finishing my favorite book for the fifth time.
- The baby’s cooing filled the room with a content atmosphere and warmed the new mother’s heart.
- We were content with the amount of food served at the restaurant, so I’d recommend it to my friends.
- My husband was content with the final version of the new book he had just received the proof of.
- The sly cat looked contented as it curled up in its bed, knowing he had eaten the family’s pet bird.
- He had a contented smile on his face after finishing his work.
- My grade four students were contented with their grades and celebrated with a pizza party.
- In Cuba, we walked down the beach with a contented sense of peace and happiness; we never wanted to leave.
Sentence Examples Using Contently and Contentedly
- My daughter worked contently on her art project, enjoying every moment of it.
- My husband hummed contently as he washed the dishes after dinner. I’m so thankful he enjoys it because I hate doing the dishes.
- The gardener we hired tended to our plants contently, enjoying the quiet of the morning.
- The young artist painted contently, completely lost in the colors and movement of her work.
- My grandmother smiled contentedly as she sipped her tea, feeling at peace.
- Our dog wagged its tail contentedly as the kids petted it.
- He sighed contentedly as he sank into the comfortable couch after a long day at work.
- The sweet baby fell asleep contentedly in his mother’s arms, feeling safe and loved.
It’s a Fine Line Between Them
I hope this guide helped clarify a bit about the subtle difference between content, contently, contented, and contentedly. They all suggest the same overall meaning, but there’s a very fine difference between using them.
Check out some others we covered: