Internal and External

We explain how internal and external differ and their meaning when referring to the human body, a country or a company.

The people inside the building observe the outside.
The internal occurs within the structure that contains it, and the external outside of it.

How are internal and external different?

The terms internal and external refer to what is inside something and what is outside, respectively. In other words, an internal element or process is one that is or occurs within some type of structure that contains it, while an external element or process is one that takes place outside of said structure.

For example, the internal components of the hardware of a computer are those that are inside its CPU, while its external components are those that are outside of the CPU. In general, the internal elements are hidden from view, forming part of something; while the external elements are in sight, outside the set.

Both “internal” and “external” are words that come from Latin and the union of three voices: the suffix –ter (denoting contrast), the suffix -nus (denoting belonging) and a changing prefix that can be in- (“inside”) or ex- (“outside”).

A) Yes, internus Y externus They were the original Latin words and had the same meaning as today: what belongs to the inside and what belongs to the outside. Other terms used to talk about this are “interior” (everything that belongs to the inside) and “exterior” (everything that belongs to the outside).

See also: Objective and subjective

The internal and external of the human body

An eye is an external organ, but it also has internal components.
The organs and fluids of the body can be totally or partially internal or external.

The human body, like that of all living beings, is a biochemical environment clearly and firmly differentiated from its surroundings, that is, it has obvious limits as to where it begins and where it ends.

  • Everything that is inside and is hidden from view is internal.Therefore, it is inside our body.
  • Everything that is on the surface is visible to the naked eye and is on the outside.
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This distinction is used when talking, for example, about internal organs: those that are normally inside our body, such as the viscera, the lungs, the heart, the liver, among many others. Instead, the skin and eyes are external organs, which are located in the outer layers of the body, in contact with the outside.

Another example of this is the genitals, which in our species can be of two types: external, like the male ones, which are exposed to sight and in contact with the environment; and internal, like the feminine ones, which are inside the womb and hidden from view.

The same can be said of fluids: those that circulate within our body and whose loss or spillage means a health risk are internal fluids, such as blood or cerebrospinal fluid; while external fluids are those that are in contact with the environment or are directed towards the outside, such as sweat or urine.

More in: Parts of the human body

The internal and the external in a country

The countries and nations, in general the States, operate as a semi-open system that has continuous contacts with the outside, but that tries, at the same time, to regulate, order and control the exchange between what enters and what leaves it. The inside and the outside, in this case, is clearly delimited by imaginary geographical limits that we know as borders. and that distinguish the zone of influence of a national political power, from the zone of influence of another, so that they do not overlap and there is peace between the two.

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A) Yes, the internal elements and processes of a country are those that result from its sole and exclusive competence, that is, that they respond to the norms, laws, authorities and national interests, typical of the people who live in that region and who are represented by the State. In fact, many legislations identify a Ministry of the Interior (usually “Interior and Justice”) or Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is in charge of dealing with matters related to national life.

On the other hand, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs or Foreign Affairs, also known as chancelleries, are those that deal with the relations of a country with others, whether they are its neighbors, its rivals or its commercial partners. Foreign affairs are, therefore, international affairs (affairs between nations) that do not respond to the laws of only one of said States, but rather to the global or regional ones that countries establish to regulate their exchanges in peace, that is, to the international right.

Another very common use of this distinction between internal and external has to do with trade and the indebtedness of countries. Domestic trade is the dynamics of exchange of goods and services that takes place within the countryin the same way that internal debt or internal debt is that which the State contracts with national private entities.

On the contrary, foreign trade refers to a similar exchange dynamic, but that occurs between two or more countries, through export and import; and foreign debt is precisely that which a State contracts with others that lend it money or with certain international financing and credit institutions, such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

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Internal and external in companies

A company contracts external providers, such as the transport of merchandise.
Companies relate to the external through customers, suppliers and outsourcing.

In the business world, internal and external are concepts that delimit the areas of competence of the organization, in a very similar way to any other organized and structured system. But since companies do not have a clearly delimitable border, its interior is constituted from the notion of private propertythat is, of what is part of their heritage.

For example, the different coordinations or operational instances of the company make up its internal organizational structure, and the processes of exchanging information between them are therefore called internal communications. In this they are distinguished from external communications, addressed to the clients and suppliers of the company or to the State that regulates it, that is, to the social and economic instances that are not part of the company’s structure.

Another good example of what is external to a company is the outsourcing or outsourcing: the contracting of professional services intended to help the company or solve any inconvenience in its productive work, but which do not come from the company itself, but from an external entity.

Suppose, for example, that a small company requires monthly maintenance for its production machines. There are two options for this: create your own maintenance department, or hire a different company to provide said service whenever necessary. The first option is an internal option; the second is an external option.

Continue with: Corporate communication


  • “Internal” in the Dictionary of the Language of the Royal Spanish Academy.
  • “External” in the Dictionary of the Language of the Royal Spanish Academy.
  • “Inmate Etymology” in the Online Spanish Etymological Dictionary.
  • “External Etymology” in the Online Spanish Etymological Dictionary.
  • “The external and the internal” in