When referring to a company that is based in Italy, I am never sure which of the above is correct. Logically speaking, "Italy-based" seems the most appropriate (since the company is based in Italy, not Italian), but I so often see "Italian-based..." written in publications that I begin to doubt myself. Is there a "correct" way, or is it simply a style issue?

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    Dodge the issue and write a company based in Italy. – Barrie England Mar 27 '13 at 7:34
  • I do sometimes, but it's not always the best solution, especially when it's a brief news item. "Finmeccanica, a company based in Italy, reported..." is not quite as snappy as "Italy-based Finmeccanica reported..." – Matt Mar 27 '13 at 8:04
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    As always, it depends on context. In a headling, for example, Italy-based would be fine. Italian-based is confusing, because it sounds as if it might refer to something based on the Italian language. – Barrie England Mar 27 '13 at 8:09
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    ...or culture, cuisine, customs etc. - I'm glad we agree. It's interesting that there's very little consistency among "serious" newspapers regarding this - from a brief search of a few titles, it seems to be around 50:50. – Matt Mar 27 '13 at 8:24
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    @BarrieEngland I've noticed that people say "American-based company" much more frequently than they say "America-based company", which just sounds wrong. See this ngram. – tchrist Mar 27 '13 at 16:45

In my view "Italian" itself suggests something of Italy or belonging to Italy. Therefore, I am not of the opinion that using "Italian-based firm" is acceptable.

For example:

Tata is an Indian company.

This sentence itself suggests the use of "Indian" as something referring to India.

Now the second case: Italy-based company. This would be correct.

For example:

Tata is a global company which is India-based.

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  • @tchrist, is there something wrong or i don't know off in making the above answer?? following from all the comments to the question. – Raghav Mar 27 '13 at 20:26
  • There might be a legal difference, Microsoft, Google and Apple are all "US-based companies" but I suspect they are actually Grand-Cayman or Dutch East Indies companies – mgb Mar 28 '13 at 2:15
  • @mgb, can you suggest what Indian-based company would mean?? – Raghav Mar 28 '13 at 2:18
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    A company that mostly operates in India - even if legally it is Swiss owned. – mgb Mar 28 '13 at 2:54
  • won't it be more proper to say?? India based company to the same effect.. [this too will mean the same]. Moreover it cuts down the confusion arising with using Indian based company. – Raghav Mar 28 '13 at 9:26

It seems a bit more straight forward if you swap a country for a city.
Melbourne based or Melbournian based...
Something that is Italian is from Italy, no matter where it is. Italy-based seems to imply that it is actually in Italy, not just having a history that is Italian.

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  • And not necessarily having an Italian history at all. I tend to agree with you. My preference is for companies -- be they Swiss, American or Martian -- that have their offices or main operations in Italy, to be called Italy-based. It's hard to think of a good example with companies, but for other things it may be possible to use "Italian-based" to describe things that follow the traits or customs associated with Italy, e.g. "The team operates an Italian-based catenaccio defensive system" a bit of a clumsy example, perhaps, but that's my point I suppose. – Matt Mar 28 '13 at 12:23

Both "Italian-Based Company" and "Italy-Based Company" are correct. It all depends on your point of view. Some people might assume that "Italy-Based Company" is right as "Italian-Based Company", like Barrie England mentioned, might become confusing. On the other hand, upon looking up the internet, I realised that most companies say that they are "Italy-Based". Thus, I suggest that you use "Italy-Based Company" first, but if the context does not fit, you may want to use a different form.

An excellent question by the way, it left me and "Google" totally bamboozled. From, David Toh

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  • What's your basis for saying "Italian-based company" is correct? Nothing in your answer supports this. – John M. Landsberg Mar 28 '13 at 5:27
  • He is asking whether it is correct i am simply answering his question. – David Toh Mar 28 '13 at 8:26
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    Of course you are answering his question. The point is, however, that you aren't backing up your assertion. We want your opinion, but if it's nothing more than opinion, say so. If you can include any logic, analysis, data, or print material that backs you up, it helps us understand your position better. As it happens, in your comment, you make reference to only two bits of backing information: England's comment, and your internet search, and both of them support "Italy-Based," not "Italian-based." It would be helpful if you gave us a reason why you think "Italian-based" might work. – John M. Landsberg Mar 29 '13 at 2:35

Some simple points are being missed and, as someone mentioned above, it depends on context.

No-one would ever say, for example, "there is an America (Air Force) base in Germany" instead of "American Base".

Similarly, multinational companies would not say they have an "Italy base" (i.e. headquarters or outlet) instead of "Italian base" or "base in Italy". Only the last two would be considered correct.

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"Italy-based" means based in Italy. "Italian-based" means based in Italian. A company whose headquarters were in Venice would be "Italy-based".

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