Its or Their to refer to a company?

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The company will issue (their, its) annual report next month.

In this case, should I use "its" or "their"?

Sebastien Sim

Posted 2015-10-17T06:18:21.153

Reputation: 91

1

Related: Verb agreement: We [company name], Are collective nouns always plural, or are certain ones singular? - English Language & Usage Stack Exchange. Without having any specific context, treating a company as a singular noun and using a singular verb and the pronoun it would be a safer choice in general.

– Damkerng T. – 2015-10-17T09:04:54.143

1The only right answer is that you can use either one, because both are used by native speakers everywhere. – tchrist – 2015-10-17T13:26:16.697

"The company will issue an annual report" avoids the problem completely :) – Noel – 2016-11-11T00:45:44.483

Is this American English, British English, or another dialect? – Jasper – 2016-11-11T03:08:49.107

Answers

7

Both its and their are pronouns. While its is a singular pronoun, their is a plural pronoun.

A company is a collective noun. In AmE, Company takes a singular verb form and singular pronoun. While in BrE, Company takes a plural verb form and plural pronoun.

So, depending on that, both are correct.

In AmE:

The company will issue its annual report next month.

In BrE:

The company will issue their annual report next month.

Usernew

Posted 2015-10-17T06:18:21.153

Reputation: 3 063

4In BE, you can use either the plural noun or singular pronoun for a company. – Khan – 2015-10-17T13:08:10.470

3@Khan In AE, you can use either the plural noun or singular pronoun for a company. – tchrist – 2015-10-17T13:23:50.957

2'their' is increasingly used as a singular pronoun too. – Simon – 2015-10-17T16:30:37.710

1I just checked today's issue of the British "Financial Times" newspaper, and it consistently refers to companies as "it," not "they". The (rather old-fashioned) BrEng meaning of "a company" = "a group of people" is a plural collective noun, or course. A "company" in the sense of a "commercial organization" is a type of "legal entity," (i.e., without getting too deep in legal definitions, "something which is not a person, but which which has the same legal rights and obligations that an individual person can have") and as such it is logically singular, not plural. – alephzero – 2015-10-17T23:36:36.897

7

Your question: should I use its or their in: The company will issue their/its annual report next month?

In this instance, I'd recommend using its:

The company will issue its annual report next month.


This, among other things, echoes Kelly's answer and Fantasier's answer to an old question: "If a collective noun is seen as a whole, sole, impersonal unit, then singular verbs are more common. If it is seen as a collection of people doing personal things, then plural verbs are more common. In American English the verb for the noun is usually singular in all cases except family (if you don't quantify it with members of, people in etc)."

Which also echoes an old answer by FumbleFingers: "(in "British English") [W]e quite naturally use singular or plural for things like company, family, group, according to context", and information relating to collective nouns which is relatively to find around the web, including on English Language & Usage Stack Exchange.


Back to your sentence, it's clear that it's safer to use its in either British or American English. Even though it may be possible to use their in British English (and also in American English), I'd personally use it in that specific instance; and though I can't say exactly why, this Google Ngram chart appears to support my choice:

enter image description here

Damkerng T.

Posted 2015-10-17T06:18:21.153

Reputation: 27 649

5

For what it's worth, Google Books Ngram Viewer would suggest that company is more often treated as singular.

enter image description here

But all you can really draw from this is that it's acceptable to treat company as either singular or plural.

I think it comes down to whether or not you want to emphasise the single legal entity or the group of people who make up the company.

In the case of an annual report, it is issued by the single legal entity and so I would use the singular:

The company will issue its annual report next month.

Graham Nicol

Posted 2015-10-17T06:18:21.153

Reputation: 1 753

3

In AmE, I think it is 'it'. So,

The company will issue its annual report next month (AmE)

In BrE, companies are often called with a plural pronoun

The company will issue their annual report next month (BrE).


My opinion

If you are talking about the 'company' use 'it'. If you are peculiar about mentioning the owners or authorities, mention 'their'.

Maulik V

Posted 2015-10-17T06:18:21.153

Reputation: 66 188

1Not really. In American English, it is perfectly normal to use their to refer to a company. – tchrist – 2015-10-17T13:24:46.973

1

The company will issue (their, its) annual report next month.

A company in this grammar is classed as a single entity, so will release its (as ownership) annual report.

A Board of Members would release their (joint ownership) annual report.

Kelly

Posted 2015-10-17T06:18:21.153

Reputation: 11