In English we have the abbreviation "Co.", which is used to denote a company or a group. We often see phrases like "Adler & Co." or "Harrison & Co." and it's commonly understood what this means.

Is there a German equivalent for this abbreviation? If you were to translate an English company name into German, and the name of this company contains the phrase "and co.", how would you translate the phrase?

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    "and co." = "und Co.". (Based on the German — der Compagnon {m} <Co.> [Mitinhaber, Partner]. Mehrzahl = die Compagnons)
    – e-sushi
    Sep 29, 2017 at 5:15

4 Answers 4


You don’t have to translate this into German because we use this abbreviation too. If you see phrases like Adler & Co. it means that not only Mr. or Mrs. Adler is the shareholder. There are others too but they are not mentioned in the company name.

In German we call a Co. Company Compagnie. Sounds not very German but it’s the truth. Until the 19th century we used the abbreviation Cie. for this so maybe you will read this abbreviation too (because of tradition they haven’t changed it).

But you have to be careful with these company abbreviations because they are proper names. In the UK you have Ltd.’s (limited companies), let’s say Facebook Ltd. This is a capital company, don’t make the mistake to translate this into Facebook GmbH. It’s also a capital company but it’s not the same.

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    Actually, "Co." derives from the French Compagnon. And, yes, it's party of the name of the company and as such must not be translated.
    – Ingmar
    Sep 28, 2017 at 15:57
  • @Ingmar It's actually German — der Compagnon {m} <Co.> [Mitinhaber, Partner]. Mehrzahl = die Compagnons
    – e-sushi
    Sep 29, 2017 at 5:11
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    @e-sushi Entlehnung aus dem französischen, Herkunft lateinisch. Siehe Wiki: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kompagnon Sep 29, 2017 at 6:22
  • @HappySPUser Doesn't change the fact it's German since around and about 1700. Besides, the question didn't ask where the word may have found its origin… it merely asked what "& Co.&" means (" und Compagnon[s]", which closely matches its English counterpart) and if, how you'ld translate it.
    – e-sushi
    Sep 29, 2017 at 20:46
  • Ich bin Mod hier und ich erhebe den Zeigefinger. Bitte bleibt in den Kommentaren beim Thema (sprich: der Antwort), seid nett zueinander und geht im Zweifel von wohlwollenden Absichten aus. — Comments deleted. Please use comments only to discuss the answer, be nice, and assume good intentions.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 29, 2017 at 22:20

German companies are sometimes identified by the initials, AG, which means "Aktiengesellschaft" ("stock company"), or GmbH, "Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, ("company with limited liability").

On the other hand, if you were referring to an English-incorporated company, Smith and Co., you would just keep the English form, "Smith and Co." and not translate it into German. Likewise, a French company, Louis & Cie. would be "translated" just that way into German.

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    Not exactly true. Ltd. and GmbH are both its own form of businesses so do not take it as the same. Sep 28, 2017 at 7:17
  • Jep, but you also said "company with limited liability similar to Ltd." which ist not true. A Ltd. can be everything compared to german equivalents. It could be "e.V.", "AG", "GmbH", "UG", ... Sep 28, 2017 at 7:28
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    @HappySPUser: I did not say that (in the original version). Thanks for pointing out that someone put that in, and I just took it out.
    – Tom Au
    Sep 28, 2017 at 7:30
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    This is bad advice. AG and GmbH stand for the legal form of company. Never "translate" something to AG or GmbH (the HGB regulates this). Only use those identifiers if the compan actually is an AG or GmBH. Simply keep the english name (or use & Co., which is also used in Germany (albeit originating from french)).
    – Polygnome
    Sep 28, 2017 at 11:17
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    @Polygnome: I made the distinction between companies incorporated in Germany and companies incorporated elsewhere. Only companies incorporated in Germany would have the legal form of AG or GmbH.
    – Tom Au
    Sep 28, 2017 at 15:46

Not at all, because in most cases you will not end up with the same thing (the legalese between countries tends to be different).

Mayer & Co, for example, is not a valid company name according to German laws - It doesn't mention the legal form of the company. For literary purposes, a translation might be useful, for real business definitely not.

Also, the designation of a legal entity is normally considered part of the proper name of the company and thus not translated - You wouldn't normally call a person named "John" in English "Hans" in the German translation.

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    "Mayer & Co, for example, is not a valid company name according to German laws - It doesn't mention the legal form of the company." This is not true. It may not be a valid company name if it were to be registered and created in Germany, but German law does not apply restrictions to names of businesses that come from outside of their jurisdiction (just as every other national law I've ever looked at does). Mayer & Co is a valid business in many jurisdictions, such as the UK (where it would be a valid name, for example, for a limited liability partnership), so can be used as is in Germany.
    – Jules
    Sep 28, 2017 at 14:03
  • @Jules You're nit-picking here. I'm saying "don't translate" because the original name is still a valid company name, even in Germany (just not valid for registering here). A translated one might not necessarily be.
    – tofro
    Sep 28, 2017 at 14:40
  • @Jules If Mayer & Co were a UK limited liability partnership, its full legal name would be Mayer & Co LLP.
    – Mike Scott
    Sep 28, 2017 at 18:46
  • @MikeScott - Hmm. You're right. I was it seems misled by this page which says "Limited partnership names must not include ‘limited liability partnership [or] ‘LLP’", but this seems to be incorrect; other sites state that the name must include one of these designations.
    – Jules
    Sep 29, 2017 at 0:26
  • @Jules IMHO: "Mayer & Co." ist die Firma der Gesellschaft "Mayer & Co. LLP" Oct 2, 2017 at 17:26

The german equivalent for this abbreviation is the same as in english:

"& Co." or "& Cie."

"Co." or alternatively "Cie." are abbreviations for "Compagnie" and denote that there are more shareholder beside the person mentioned.

Note that according to the german law (Handelsgesetzbuch) you have to add the company's legal form in order to satisfy the required mandatory informations.

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