a box, a package, and a packet

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Chinese, Taiwan
Question 1. Are they all [a box, a package, and a packet] correct? 2. Do they all refer to the same stuff?
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  • SPQR

    Senior Member
    American English
    Question 1. Are they all correct? 2. Do they all refer to the same stuff?
    1. Yes
    2. No

    Box = usually a six-sided container made of cardboard (most often), wood, steel, plastic, paper, whatever.
    Package = a container and its contents. Can be a box, envelope, etc.
    Packet = a "package" usually an envelope with paper in it.

    Many variations on the theme of these words.
    Do you have specific questions on their usage?


    New Member
    What about those small bags of ketchup or mayonaise they give out at restaurants? Can you consider that a packet?

    How would you call those? Im asking because Im not a native english speaker


    Senior Member
    American English
    I would most certainly call them "packets." In fact, I did, last Friday, which was the last time I asked for them: "Could I have some mayo packets, please?"


    Senior Member
    I'd definitely call them "packets," too. I have heard some people use a rather odd-sounding (but logical) construction like this: "Could I have some more hot sauces, please?" (meaning "some more packets of hot sauce"). I haven't heard this with ketchup or mayonnaise, but I wouldn't be surprised if I did. "Ketchups" and "mayonnaises," though, are rather difficult to say, for some reason.


    Senior Member
    I have to agree with Sparky - sachet automatically makes me think of, for example, the dried aromantic flower known as lavender, and I don't even want to think about lavender and ketchup together. I accept that our brothers across the Pond have a different perspective, but it's really difficult for me to visualize, probably because of my hangup re. lavender and ketchup.
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    Sparky Malarky

    English - US
    Wow. Another thing I've learned in the short time I've been here. Sachets of ketchup sounds disgusting. But then, I've heard BE speakers who nearly gagged when they first heard of biscuits and gravy. (NOT what it sounds like to Brits!)

    I think this is why it's good to point out the differences.
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