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 >>
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. Insights

    What Is a Silver Certificate Dollar Bill Worth Today?

    Although a silver-certificate dollar bill no longer can be exchanged for silver, the date, grade and unique features make certain certificates very valuable.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. Investing

    Defining the 3 Types of Investments

    The first step to being a successful investor is knowing what is and isn't an investment.
  6. 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.
  7. Investing

    What is a Share?

    A share – also called a stock -- is a unit of ownership in a corporation or financial asset.
  8. 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.
  9. Financial Advisor

    Advising FAs: How To Explaining Stocks to a Client

    Without a doubt, common stocks are one of the greatest tools ever invented for building wealth.
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. Cage

    A term used to describe the department of a brokerage firm that ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Free Rider Problem

    1. In economics, the free rider problem refers to a situation where some individuals in a population either consume more ...
  2. Dumping

    In international trade, the export by a country or company of a product at a price that is lower in the foreign market than ...
  3. Tender Offer

    An offer to purchase some or all of shareholders' shares in a corporation. The price offered is usually at a premium to the ...
  4. Ponzi Scheme

    A fraudulent investing scam promising high rates of return with little risk to investors. The Ponzi scheme generates returns ...
  5. Dow Jones Industrial Average - DJIA

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 significant stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange ...
  6. Revolving Credit

    A line of credit where the customer pays a commitment fee and is then allowed to use the funds when they are needed. It is ...
Trading Center