A:

In today's financial markets, the distinction between stocks and shares has been somewhat blurred. Generally, these words are used interchangeably to refer to the pieces of paper that denote ownership in a particular company, called stock certificates. However, the difference between the two words comes from the context in which they are used.

For example, "stock" is a general term used to describe the ownership certificates of any company, in general, and "shares" refers to a the ownership certificates of a particular company. So, if investors say they own stocks, they are generally referring to their overall ownership in one or more companies. Technically, if someone says that they own shares - the question then becomes - shares in what company?

Bottom line, stocks and shares are the same thing. The minor distinction between stocks and shares is usually overlooked, and it has more to do with syntax than financial or legal accuracy.

(To read more on stocks, see our Stock Basics Tutorial.)

RELATED FAQS
  1. What is finance?

    "Finance" is a broad term that describes two related activities: the study of how money is managed and the actual process ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the 'Rule of 72'?

    The 'Rule of 72' is a simplified way to determine how long an investment will take to double, given a fixed annual rate of ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is a stock split? Why do stocks split?

    All publicly-traded companies have a set number of shares that are outstanding on the stock market. A stock split is a decision ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Does mutual fund manager tenure matter?

    Mutual fund investors have numerous items to consider when selecting a fund, including investment style, sector focus, operating ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Why do financial advisors dislike target-date funds?

    Financial advisors dislike target-date funds because these funds tend to charge high fees and have limited histories. It ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What licenses does a hedge fund manager need to have?

    A hedge fund manager does not necessarily need any specific license to operate a fund, but depending on the type of investments ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Fundamental Analysis

    3 Misconceptions About Warren Buffett

    Learn why Warren Buffett is the man behind the curtain and how he is misunderstood regarding the ways he has adapted and changed his investing approach over the years.
  2. Fundamental Analysis

    Will Health Care Continue to Drive IPOs in 2016?

    Learn why health care IPOs may be slowing in 2016, and how Obamacare, poor previous filings and economic factors are affecting the health care sector.
  3. Active Trading Fundamentals

    4 Stocks With Bullish Head and Shoulders Patterns for 2016 (PG, ETR)

    Discover analyses of the top four stocks with bullish head and shoulders patterns forming in 2016, and learn the prices at which they should be considered.
  4. Investing

    3 Healthy Financial Habits for 2016

    ”Winning” investors don't just set it and forget it. They consistently take steps to adapt their investment plan in the face of changing markets.
  5. Investing

    How to Ballast a Portfolio with Bonds

    If January and early February performance is any guide, there’s a new normal in financial markets today: Heightened volatility.
  6. Investing Basics

    How liquid are Fidelity mutual funds?

    Review the liquidity features of mutual fund shares and an overview of Fidelity mutual funds. Most investors look for convenient access to their investments.
  7. Sectors

    3 Cyclical Industries To Exploit in 2016

    Learn about the three industries at the down end of their business cycles, and discover how these industries may improve in years to come.
  8. Retirement

    Smart Ways to Tap Your Retirement Portfolio

    A rundown of strategies, from what to liquidate first to how much to withdraw, along with their tax consquences.
  9. Stock Analysis

    If You Had Invested Right After Berkshire Hathaway's IPO (BRK.A)

    Learn how much you would now have if you had invested right after Berkshire Hathaway's IPO, and find out the classes of shares that you could invest in.
  10. Stock Analysis

    Is Now the Right Time to Buy Coty? (COTY)

    Find out whether fragrance and color cosmetics powerhouse Coty deserves a place in your portfolio. Will recent acquisitions help turn the company around?
RELATED TERMS
  1. Sortino Ratio

    A modification of the Sharpe ratio that differentiates harmful ...
  2. Markdown

    The difference between the highest current bid price among dealers ...
  3. Catalyst

    A catalyst in equity markets is a revelation or event that propels ...
  4. Investing

    The act of committing money or capital to an endeavor with the ...
  5. Equity Risk Premium

    The excess return that investing in the stock market provides ...
  6. Alpha

    Alpha is used in finance to represent two things: 1. a measure ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Harry Potter Stock Index

    A collection of stocks from companies related to the "Harry Potter" series franchise. Created by StockPickr, this index seeks ...
  2. Liquidation Margin

    Liquidation margin refers to the value of all of the equity positions in a margin account. If an investor or trader holds ...
  3. Black Swan

    An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult ...
  4. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  5. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
Trading Center