French Phrases: Types of business and talking about businesses
See also: French translation service
The following is a list of what are probably the most common types of
business in France and French-speaking countries. It is important to note that:
- the precise legal details of these different business types depend on the
French-speaking country in question;
- the English equivalents are only approximate— as in French-speaking
counties, the legal details of particular business types varies among
- for more information on translating French contracts,
see the separate page on
French contracts/compromis de vente.
|French business type||Abbreviation||Explanation||Nearest English/US equivalents|
|Société Anonyme à Responsabilité Limitée
||The typical model of a small to medium sized company in France.
Limited-liability company with 2-100 associates (1-100 in Switzerland) and
a minimum capital of around 7,500 Euro. Shares, strictly referred to
as parts sociales, are not freely transferrable.
||Limited Liability Company/Corporation (US), Limited Company (UK)
||Limited liability company of 7+ shareholders, which must have a Board of Directors,
and a minimum capital of just under 40,000 Euro.
||Corporation (US), Public Limited Company (UK)
|Société en Nom Collectif
||Partnership of at least 2 associates, who are personally liable for
the company's debts, and who are taxed on income. Typical only of small,
family businesses that don't have the capital to form a SARL.
||Single trader whose personal assets are not legally separated from those of the business.
||Sole partnership/Proprietorship, Sole Trader (UK)
||Simplified model of business introduced in 2009 aimed at individuals running business
activities (e.g. translators, web site owners,
students doing extra freelance work plus other freelancers)
who do not want the overhead of setting up a fully-fledged "business".
|Entreprise Unipersonnelle à Responsabilité Limitée
||Single trader whose personal and business assets are legally separated.
||Limited Liability Partnership
Translating names of business types
As in English, French business names are usually followed by the initials specifying
the type of business (and in some circumstances, this is a legal requirement).
In general, when quoting the name of a French business in an English text,
it us usual to quote the name verbatim with its French company-type abbreviations.
Nowadays, the legal acts defining different company types are reasonably accessible via
the Internet. So when referring to a business type by its full name within a text (i.e. not
just the initials that are part of a company name), it is recommendable to simply quote the
French name, possibly giving an English equivalent but with a phrase ("roughly equivalent to...",
"similar to...") indicating that
this is just an approximate equivalent. For example:
"Bonnaffaire, Société Anonyme fondée en 2001, ..."
could be translated as:
"Bonnaffaire, a Société Anonyme (a type of French company similar to
a PLC) founded in 2001, ..."
To avoid interrupting the flow of the text, you could simply write:
The Société Anonyme Bonnaffaire, founded in 2001, ...
and include an appropriate footnote if you deem it necessary.
You may be interested in the following available on this site:
Writing business letters in French
French business glossary
Automatic French/English translation
Page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright (c) Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.