The English language is full of annoying words and grammar rules that make it a hard language to master. Even native speakers make mistakes, like not knowing the difference between companies vs company’s. These two words have entirely different uses and meanings, but they have the exact same sound. How can you tell the difference and know which word to use in your writing?
Which Is Correct: Companies vs Company’s?
Use the word companies when you’re talking about more than one company. A good way to test is to replace the word companies with the word businesses. If the sentence still makes sense, you’re good to go!
Use company’s when you want to talk about something that belongs to the company or when you’re contracting the verb has or is with the word company.
More on When to Use Companies Instead of Company’s
Companies is the plural form of the singular noun company. We use the singular noun company as a synonym for business or enterprise:
- Mcdonald’s is a large company.
- An entrepreneur is trying to build a company.
Note that we use the indefinite article a before the singular noun company.
Words that end in consonant + y convert the y to ie when adding an s to create the plural form.
Any time we want to talk about more than one company, we should use the plural form, companies. Usually, we would refer to a group of companies within an industry or perhaps list several companies in a row. When you use the plural form, you may use the definite article the if you’re referring to specific companies. If you’re speaking in general about things that all companies do, you’d omit the article.
Examples of Companies Used in a Sentence
- I own three companies in three different sectors.
- What companies would you like to invest in?
- How many companies has Google bought in the past decade?
When to Use Company’s Instead of Companies
First of all, it’s important to remember that using an apostrophe before an s can have two different meanings. We typically use an apostrophe + s to indicate possession, which is known as the “possessive s” in English. You do this all the time with names: Joe’s car is in my driveway.
- The company’s workers went on strike to protest their pay. (the workers belonging to the company)
- This company’s investors are upset about the last quarter’s results. (the investors belonging to the company)
- Which company’s CEO has the most interesting Twitter feed? (the CEO belonging to the company)
- The company’s (company is) trying to launch a new product this year.
- Our company’s (company has) experienced lots of growth thanks to the new marketing campaign.
- This company’s (company is) a great place to work.
Why the Companies vs Company’s Confusion?
Companies and Company’s both stem from the same root. However, they both undergo transformations. Unfortunately, these transformations result in both words having the same sound, making them homophones. Homophones are all over the English language and can make it difficult for people to tell which word to use in writing.
In speech, our brains automatically figure out the meaning based on the context, but when we process words visually on paper, we can easily get confused. Fortunately, in this case, the two transformations are so distinct that it should be easy to remember which word to use. A good rule of thumb is that the longer word represents the plural form in these cases.
While we’re on the topic, we ought to point out that it’s also possible to use the word companies with an apostrophe at the end of it. This combines both concepts we’ve discussed here. The word companies’ is used to refer to something that is possessed by multiple companies.
So, first you need to use the plural form companies, then you must indicate something that belongs to them all, with an apostrophe + s.
- Microsoft and Apple are tech companies. The companies’ headquarters are located on the west coast of the United States. (the headquarters belonging to the two companies)
Why It Matters
Even though it might seem like a relatively minor issue, using the right spelling and grammar for your words is important. Your business appears unknowledgeable and unprofessional when you don’t use words correctly.
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