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Difference between Etiquette and Courtesy

Difference between Etiquette and Courtesy

Etiquette vs. Courtesy

What is the Difference between Etiquette and Courtesy? We are all part of a society and we have to interact with other people whether we like it or not. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for a human being to live completely isolated from others. However, in order not to be rejected in society one has to fulfill certain expectations and develop certain interaction skills. Hence two very important concepts related to the way we relate to our fellow men: courtesy and etiquette.

Difference between Etiquette and Courtesy

If you do not know the difference between Etiquette and Courtesy, then continue reading, because then we explain it to you.


What is considered courtesy in one culture may not be in another, but in a general sense it is understood that this is a form of behavior that fits the social context to which the individual belongs, considered appropriate or good.

We learn the rules of courtesy when we are very young, we learn from our parents, at school, and also from others around us. Courtesy involves a set of generalized rules that everyone is expected to follow, such as asking permission when we want to pass and someone is in the middle of saying “health” when someone sneezes.

In a general sense, courtesy rules promote actions that take others into consideration and make them feel respected. In most cases, there is not much distinction between social classes when it comes to courtesy rules. Some middle class may show the same form of courtesy as someone of high or low class.

Some of the most important rules of courtesy that we almost all know are the following: respecting the elderly, respecting the property of others, not talking about others behind their back, and not talking rudely (as does the doll in the GIF above).


On the other hand, the rules of etiquette are not as general as those of courtesy; are more limited to certain contexts and certain social classes. These rules tell us how to behave in specific environments, such as a company event, a restaurant outing, and a formal party.

Some of the best-known courtesy rules are those dealing with table behavior (which spoon to use, how to hold arms and posture …), how to greet someone of great importance and how to dance at a formal party.

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