Compare to "one of the founders".

Does it depend on the specific person you're talking about? Google has 7M+ results for the phrase but I can't search it on NGrams successfully because of the hyphen. (I think.)

  • the ngrams search for 'co founders' will return both 'co-founders' and 'co founders'. as the later should be insignificantly rare(?) you should be able to get what you need. See ngrams.googlelabs.com/… To validate my claim follow the links in the table below and look at some sample of the text in the actual books. – Unreason May 30 '11 at 19:52
  • That's strange. Google gives almost 20x as many results for co-founder but there are almost none in comparison on NGrams. – Sophie Alpert May 30 '11 at 19:54
  • The results numbers are fudged. They change to a (slightly) more accurate number once you get deep enough in the search results that they actually calculate how many pages of results there are. – Matthew Read May 30 '11 at 20:07
  • I can't really understand the question. Why would "one of the co-founders" ever be incorrect? What's the concern exactly? "One of the founders" means something different, so I'm not sure why we're comparing them. (Imagine a meeting of founders of various companies. "One of the founders" means anyone at that meeting. "One of the co-founders" means anyone at that meeting who is a co-founder.) – David Schwartz Mar 24 '12 at 4:46

Theoretically, you could be referring to people who could be either "founders of a company" or "founders of companies". In the latter case, the founders could have founded their companies independently, so "co-founders" would be used to indicate that they did not in fact found separately. I think "co-founders" is redundant in virtually all other uses, though.

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It is a little redundant, but I don't think it is wrong. However, I would be more inclined to say "one of the founders."

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