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

Please be courteous of others


Please be courteous to others

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

3 Answers 3


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


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.

  • 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, 2011 at 18:04
  • 1
    I think it would traditionally be considered an error, yes.
    – Charles
    Apr 27, 2011 at 18:32

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

  • 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, 2011 at 0:18
  • @Jimi Oke "Google Similarity Distance" "Kolmogorov complexity" "treat a Google search as a search of the Internet as a corpus" Apr 28, 2011 at 2:50

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