In what situation would you use company or a companion in the following sentences?

I have a dog and it's my company.
I have a dog and it's my companion.

Can I use company instead of companion in "a traveling companion"? For example: traveling company.

closed as general reference by MetaEd, kiamlaluno, user11550, Kris, Andrew Leach Dec 20 '12 at 8:03

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Welcome to ELU, atsea. When you looked these words up in a dictionary (as I'm sure you did), what did you find? Please tell us what you already know, so that we can help you better. – Marthaª Dec 20 '12 at 4:19
  • "Traveling companion" is a standard idiom, but "traveling company" is unusual. It might be used by some cerebrally sere writer stretching for a trope and possibly misunderstood to refer to a metaphorical travel agency or tour guide. So, I'd say that while you can use "traveling company", it'd be better to say & write "traveling companion"if you want to be instantly understood & not considered linguistically strange. – user21497 Dec 20 '12 at 6:08

"Companion" is the more natural of the two phrases to use.

"Company" has two relevant definitions in this case.

I enjoy the company of my dog. (definition 1a - the companionship of your dog)

My dog is my only company. (definition 1b - your dog as one of your companions)

The second is closer to your example, but the only is an important qualifier because it helps to highlight that you're talking about the dog being one of many potential companions. Just saying "my dog is my company" by itself sounds awkward.

  • I should think that "the second is closer to your example" is "proper" English. – user21497 Dec 20 '12 at 5:41
  • @BillFranke - Indeed, thank you. (You could have just edited it :)) – Lynn Dec 20 '12 at 5:43
  • @BillFranke: He could very well say the Company:). – Noah Dec 20 '12 at 5:51
  • @Lynn: Sometimes that kind of editing is presumptuous, but it's been done to a couple of my posted answers. Many high-level native speakers don't see anything wrong with sentences like "Alpha is the oldest twin and Beta, the youngest". Who am I to insist that everyone else think & express themselves as I do? Only peacocks put themselves in that position. – user21497 Dec 20 '12 at 6:14
  • @BillFranke:When I say 'My dog is my company', does it mean it is right with me now, but not necessarily mean it's my companion? When I say 'my dog is my companion', does it mean that it might not be with me right now, but I spend a lot of time with it? Thank you all your comments. – mrrat Dec 20 '12 at 20:31

"Company" is uncountable, while "companion" is countable. You can think of them as words similar to "agriculture" and "farm". When you refer to a plurality of company, you need to use a measure word. "I have five people in my company". "My company is five people". Companions are individual entities. You do not need to use a measure word. You can even use them together, "I have five companions in my company". "Company" is an abstract concept; a companion is a distinct noun.

  • 1
    I think you mean uncountable vs. countable with "indiscreet" vs. "discreet" (both of which are the wrong word entirely: you were probably thinking of discrete, which doesn't have an antonym in in-). I have no clue what you mean by "measure word", however. – Marthaª Dec 20 '12 at 4:11
  • I think you are on the right track, Ari, but: 1) ‘company’ and ‘companion’ are both ‘discrete’ words, referring to ‘indiscrete’ and ‘discrete’ entities, respectively. 2) I think you are confusing two concepts: company is a countable ‘collective’ noun, designating a collection of individuals, not an uncountable ‘mass’ noun like humanity, which has no discrete subsets. 3) It is such ‘mass’ nouns which can be said to name ‘abstract concepts’; company names a group, and companion an individual; but all three are ‘distinct nouns’, because each is distinct from all other nouns. – StoneyB Dec 20 '12 at 4:26
  • @S: "Company" is also an abstraction on the level of "freedom" and "democracy", semantically empty concepts that vary in meaning by context & user. Some folks find insects, flowers, other linguistically incapable life forms "company"; others find it in imaginary companions. There's a distinct difference in desiring "company" (the abstraction) & "a company" (the CIA or some aggregation of corporate employees). As a mass, non-count noun, "company" has no discrete subsets when used to mean "Some beings to make my life less lonely". "Humanity" & "company" are different types of Platonic forms. – user21497 Dec 20 '12 at 5:57
  • "Humanity" in the concrete consists only of one or more sets of humans, but "company" can consist of a variety of sets of different types of ethereal, imaginary, animate or inanimate beings or objects (stuffed tigers like Hobbes, eg). I'm sure there's more to say about this, but I can't think of it now. – user21497 Dec 20 '12 at 6:00
  • @BillFranke You are quite right, and I wrote too hastily. My aplologies to the company. – StoneyB Dec 20 '12 at 12:13

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