Company profits are down from last year's figures.
(Copied from Cambridge dictionary.)

1) Why don't we use a possessive s?

2) Why do we use plural profits?

3) Why don't we use “the”? When you compare with last year figures then you are talking about a specific profit. Also, If you are not talking about a specific profit then you should use the uncountable singular form “profit”.

The company's income has greatly improved: profit rose more than 50 percent last year. (Copied from Cambridge dictionary.)

4) Please try now to apply what you have just said on this sentence. :) because I am very confused.

  • Correction: Please try to apply what I have just said in this sentence.
    – Lambie
    Nov 2, 2018 at 15:32

2 Answers 2


Business jargon and style.

Company profits are down from last year's figures.

Nouns can be used as adjectives. Company profits here means, the profits of the company: The profits the company made this year.

It is accepted business lingo to use company as an adjective: company policy, company ethics, company risks, company practices. All those mean: of the company.

It is plural because in business, profits, earnings and income are used that way. The first two are countable and the third is not.

That said, on a profit & loss statement (also known as: an income statement, the accounts showing how much a company makes in a year), the singular is used as a line item. The sentence could also be written as: Company profit is down etc. Both would be acceptable. It depends on context.

The determiner "the" is often not used because in business lingo, it's a general statement about a company that has already been mentioned. If your document or context makes clear which company you are discussing, there is no need for "the".

ABC Company [the paragraph is kind of stupid, but it illustrates my points]

ABC Company made a profit [line item idea] last year. This year, the company did not make a profit. Last year, the profit [line item idea] was very high. And company executives have stated they expect to ABC company bring in big profits [earnings or income] next year as sales of blue widgets are expected to grow significantly.

Notice the shift from "a" to "the" in the second mention there. Also, when you make statements in general with a countable noun, you don't use "the": I like an apple for breakfast. I like apples for breakfast. So, too, "company profits".

Those sentences copied from the dictionary are not part of a written text. They are just "unattached" sentences. So, it can be a bit tricky to justify usage.

That said, "The company's income is [whatever]" implies that, in a scenario with the, you are specifically not talking about some other company "thing" such as "The company's outstanding loans", for example. In a press release or memo, you could use: Company income (or earnings or profits) rose by 10% year on year.

[I think I've covered the questions; I can always come back and edit this.]

  • How they used possessive s with a company anyway? we use it with humans and animals only, don't we?
    – Costa
    Nov 2, 2018 at 15:22
  • No, possessives are not only used with animals and humans. [[Please note: you might want to correct all your questions: Why did they use possessive s with a company?. Why do we use x instead of y?. Why didn't we use x?]]
    – Lambie
    Nov 2, 2018 at 15:30

This is one of those things where I think "Oh, we do that because...." and I can't think of a good reason why.

Lambie's answer is good, so I'll just add a few things:

You can use the possessive "company's", though you'd need a "The" unless you're referencing a proper noun. It can change the sentence slightly in some cases.

These are both OK, and mean the same thing:

Germany's exports have doubled.

German exports have doubled.

The first construction gives an answer the question 'Whose exports were they?' (Germany's) and the second gives an answer to 'what type of exports were they?' (German)


Here's an example of where there's a difference:

Tesla's cars were sold.

  • Implies that Tesla, as a company, sold some set of cars. A listener may infer that the cars were Tesla model cars, but that's not guaranteed. It could also apply if Tesla for some reason owned a fleet of Honda Civics, and sold them all.

Tesla cars were sold.

  • This implies that the cars that were sold, were Tesla model cars, and it says nothing about who sold them - it could have been a used car dealership.


And for yet another minor difference, the phrases "company card", "company car", "company profits", "company stock", etc. have developed their own set of rules.

The company's cars were sold.

  • Just means that a bunch of cars that the company owned, were sold.

The company cars were sold.

  • Means specifically that the cars that the company lets their employees drive for business activities, were sold.

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