Loading the player...
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, and "shares" refers to 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. How do you get a hard copy of a stock certificate?

    Before online brokers and personally-directed accounts, holding a physical stock certificate was a necessity, as this was ... Read Answer >>
  2. I hold stock certificates in a company that just had a stock split. What happens ...

    The short answer is that a stock split will have little effect on the holder of stock certificates. In most cases when an ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    What’s The Difference Between Shares And Stocks?

    In today’s markets, the distinction between stocks and shares has become blurred.
  2. Investing

    Old Stock Certificates: Lost Treasure Or Wallpaper?

    What if you've discovered some old shares in bearer form? Follow our tips and find out what they're worth.
  3. Investing

    iShares Silver Trust ETF: Who Is Invested? (SLV)

    Discover the top institutional owners of the iShares Silver Trust exchange-traded fund (ETF), their exact ownership and their recent position adjustments.
  4. Investing

    Defining The 3 Types Of Investments

    Investments can be divided into three distinct groups – ownership, lending and cash equivalents.
  5. Investing

    Defining The 3 Types Of Investments

    An investment is something that is purchased with the expectation it will produce income or a profit. There are three main types: ownership, lending, and cash equivalents
  6. Investing

    What is a Share?

    A share – also called a stock -- is a unit of ownership in a corporation or financial asset.
  7. Financial Advisor

    What Is The Difference Between Preferred Stock And Common Stock?

    Most investors are familiar with common stock, but many know little about another form of company ownership: preferred stock.
  8. Investing

    Defining the 3 Types of Investments

    The first step to being a successful investor is knowing what is and isn't an investment.
  9. Investing

    Explaining Market Value of Equity

    Market value of equity is the total value of all the outstanding stock as measured in the stock market at a particular time.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Share Certificate

    A share certificate is a written document signed on behalf of ...
  2. Stock Certificate

    The physical piece of paper representing ownership in a company. ...
  3. Push Out

    One of two ways to effect a stock split. In a push out, new share ...
  4. Certificated Stock

    The stock of a commodity that has been inspected by qualified ...
  5. Periodic Payment Plan Certificate

    A certificate representing ownership interest in a periodic payment ...
  6. Trust Certificate

    A bond or debt investment, usually in a public corporation, that ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis.
  2. Money Market

    A segment of the financial market in which financial instruments with high liquidity and very short maturities are traded. ...
  3. Block (Bitcoin Block)

    Blocks are files where data pertaining to the Bitcoin network is permanently recorded.
  4. Fintech

    Fintech is a portmanteau of financial technology that describes an emerging financial services sector in the 21st century.
  5. Ex-Dividend

    A classification of trading shares when a declared dividend belongs to the seller rather than the buyer. A stock will be ...
  6. Debt Security

    Any debt instrument that can be bought or sold between two parties and has basic terms defined, such as notional amount (amount ...
Trading Center