What's the difference between shares and stocks?

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 the minimum amount of money that I can invest in a mutual fund?

    Learn about investing in mutual funds even with a smaller initial investment; there are many funds available to investors ...
  2. How do I sign up for a TreasuryDirect account?

    Invest in Treasury securities by dealing directly with the U.S. Department of the Treasury online, conveniently managing ...
  3. How can I get a mutual fund prospectus?

    Read and understand the prospectus before investing in a mutual fund. You can obtain a copy from the fund company, your financial ...
  4. Can I purchase mutual funds for my IRA?

    Learn how to invest your IRA assets in mutual funds. Discover a few of the different types of mutual funds available for ...
RELATED TERMS
  1. Discretionary Investment Management

    A form of investment management in which buy and sell decisions ...
  2. Account Minimum

    The minimum balance required to be maintained in an investment ...
  3. Capital Growth

    The increase in value of an asset or investment over time. It ...
  4. Absolute Percentage Growth

    An increase in the value of an asset or account expressed in ...
  5. Compound Annual Growth Rate - CAGR

    The year-over-year growth rate of an investment over a specified ...
  6. Return On Investment - ROI

    A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment ...
Related Articles
  1. Using Normal Distribution Formula To ...
    Investing Basics

    Using Normal Distribution Formula To ...

  2. Human Capital, An Important Asset For ...
    Investing Basics

    Human Capital, An Important Asset For ...

  3. Tracking Your Portfolio On Yahoo! Finance
    Investing Basics

    Tracking Your Portfolio On Yahoo! Finance

  4. Can Good News Be A Signal To Sell?
    Fundamental Analysis

    Can Good News Be A Signal To Sell?

  5. Beware Of Wall Street's Three Big Lies
    Fundamental Analysis

    Beware Of Wall Street's Three Big Lies