Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I saw this in a document today, and was wondering about which usage is more appropriate.

Please be courteous of others

vs

Please be courteous to others

I've seen it both ways. Is one correct, or more appropriate for certain situations?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

"Courteous to others" is correct. "Courteous of others" is possible, but the former is more common.

share|improve this answer

For the most part, the two phrasings are indistinguishable, but I believe there are subtly different implications between them.

Please be courteous of others is advice to be taken "inwardly"; it is advising its recipient to be mindful, to think of the actions that others might take. In particular, there is a mental component to the prescription; it says, you should think of others' desires before doing whatever it is you want to do.

Please be courteous to others is advice directed towards "outward" behavior; it advises its recipient to simply act courteously, not necessarily think so; it says, you might think as rude as spiteful thoughts as you want, but please observe a modicum of politeness.

share|improve this answer
2  
There are no examples of courteous of used like this in either BNC or COCA. So is it not simply a grammatical error? –  z7sg Ѫ Apr 27 '11 at 18:04
1  
I think it would traditionally be considered an error, yes. –  Charles Apr 27 '11 at 18:32

"Courteous to others" has 483,000 results on Google vs. "Courteous of others" which only has 85,400 results

share|improve this answer
1  
Could you kindly provide some analysis or explanation? Otherwise, merely reporting data does not in any way answer this question. –  Jimi Oke Apr 28 '11 at 0:18
    
@Jimi Oke "Google Similarity Distance" "Kolmogorov complexity" "treat a Google search as a search of the Internet as a corpus" –  Paul Amerigo Pajo Apr 28 '11 at 2:50

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.