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5 Differences between Shares and Stocks

  • Akshit Anthony
  • Dec 02, 2021
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In the financial markets, the line between stocks and shares is hazy. Both phrases are commonly used interchangeably in American English to refer to financial equities, especially securities that imply ownership in a public corporation. 


Nowadays, the distinction between the two terms is mainly based on syntax and the context in which they are employed.



Identical Terminology


"Stocks" is the more broad, generic phrase of the two. It's a term that's frequently used to designate a portion of a company's ownership. In general usage, however, "shares" has a more specific meaning: it often refers to the right of a particular corporation.


As a result, if someone states she "owns shares," some individuals may answer with, "shares in what company?" For example - An investor could instruct his broker to purchase 100 shares of XYZ Inc. If he bought 100 stocks, he meant a big slew of companies—100 distinct ones, to be exact.


For example, that remark "I own shares" would elicit a more generic response, "Shares of what?" What kind of investment are you talking about?" It's worth mentioning that one may invest in inverse ETFs, limited partnerships, real estate investment trusts, mutual funds and other financial vehicles. 


On the other hand, stocks relate solely to corporate equities, which are securities that are exchanged on a stock market.


What is a Stock?


Let's stick to equities and equity markets for now. 


Investment experts frequently use Stocks to refer to corporations—publicly traded firms, that is. Energy stocks, value stocks, large- and small-cap stocks, food-sector stocks, blue-chip stocks, and others are all examples. 


These categories refer to the corporations that issued the stocks rather than the stocks themselves in each case.


Financial professionals also use common stock and preferred stock. However, they aren't stock kinds but share types.


As a result, when individuals talk about a company's stock, they usually refer to its common stock. The most common sort of stock is common stock, which represents shares of ownership in a firm. People commonly refer to common stock when they talk about stocks. 


In reality, this is how the vast majority of stock is issued. Ordinary shares are a claim on earnings (dividends) and provide you with the opportunity to vote. Investors typically have one vote per share to elect board members who supervise management's major decisions.


 In comparison to preferred shareholders, stockholders have more power over business policy and management concerns.


(Related Reading: Beginner’s Guide to Stock Market Investment)



What is a Share?


A share is the lowest denomination of stock in a firm. The correct word to use when dividing up stock and referring to certain qualities is shares.


In technical terms, shares are units of stock.


Different classes of a company's equity are referred to as common and preferred. They each have their own set of rights and benefits, as well as varying costs. Common shareholders, for example, have the right to vote on business referendums and employees. 


Preferred shareholders may not have voting rights, but they have priority when receiving pay if the firm goes bankrupt. The company may pay dividends on both sorts of shares, but those in the preferred class are assured to be paid first if one is announced.


The two most common types of stock shares are common and preferred; however, firms can build additional classes of stock to meet the demands of their stockholders. Special voting rights are assigned to different types of shares, commonly referred to as "A," "B," and so on. 


For example, one class of shares would be owned by a select group of investors given five votes per share. 

Specific Points to Consider


The phrases stocks and shares are primarily interchangeable in American English. In other languages, there are still significant differences between the two terms. 


For example - A share is the smallest unit into which the company's capital is divided. It signifies the ownership of the company's shareholders. It may only be partially paid up, according to the country's Companies Act of 2013. On the other hand, a stock is a collection of a member paid-up entirely shares transformed into a single fund. 



Difference Between Stocks and Shares


The main distinction between stock and shares is that stock is a broad phrase used to represent a person's ownership in one or more firms in the market. In contrast, the term share is a more specific term used to describe a person's right in a single company in the market.


The distinction between Stocks and Shares is minor. In terms of the ownership of the company/companies, we find two certifications.


We refer to them as "stock certificates" and "share certificates."


  • A certificate of shares is what we call it when an equity owner maintains ownership of a corporation.

  • And an equity owner possesses credentials from numerous firms, which we refer to as stock certificates.


As a result, we can observe that the only variation is in specificity.


(Related Blog:- Equity Financing: Sources, Advantages & Disadvantages)




Assume Mr Treehouse has purchased the Youth Inc. certificates. We'll refer to the certificates as shares in this example since we can see that Mr Treehouse purchased them from a "specific" corporation.


If we say Mr Treehouse holds certificates from multiple firms, we're talking about stock certificates.


That is to say, and a share is a smaller unit of stock than a stock.


A share can be issued in three ways since it is a specific certificate of a firm:-


  • At par value: In this situation, the stock is sold for a pittance.


  • At premium: The share is issued at a price higher than its face value.


  • At a discount: In this instance, the stock is issued lower than the face value.


Equity shares and preference shares are the two types of shares available. As we all know, Equity shareholders have voting rights but are compensated after debt holders and preference shareholders. 


Preference stockholders are given special treatment and are paid first (after the debt holders).

We interpret stock as a general phrase since it does not refer to the shares of a specific corporation.


Key Differences


The term "stock" is a generic one. "The investor invests in stocks," we say when we talk about stocks. On the other hand, the term "share" is relatively specific. When we say "Mr. U has purchased shares of Tea Shop Inc.," we mean "Mr. U has purchased shares of Tea Shop Inc."


The stock market is a large-scale idea. The share, on the other hand, is a tiny idea. We can't define a specific investment when we say stock. However, when we say "share," we're referring to a particular corporation. 


Because there isn't much distinction, a layperson who isn't familiar with the subtleties will confuse stock with share.


Since the stock is generic, it cannot be utilised while discussing types. In the case of shares, however, there are two types: stock shares and preferred shares. We can also establish that shares have been issued in the case of claims. At par value, at a premium, or a discount, a company can give the shares three ways.



Comparison Table


Basis for comparison









It's a bigger version of a share.


It is a smaller unit of stock.


Relationship with the owner


When a person holds the stock of numerous firms, we refer to them as stockholders.

We say that the owner owns shares when he or she owns the stock of a corporation.


The term "stock" is a generic one. We can't designate stocks owned by an owner as shares of a certain firm.

The phrase "share" is unique. We can inquire about a certain firm if the owner has shares.


Mr. A invests in stocks (this assertion does not need to be questioned further).

Mr. B has made a stock purchase (then the next question would in which company, how many shares, what type of shares, etc.)

Macro & Micro

The stock market may be compared to a car (industry).

Stocks can be compared to automobiles (particular company).




When it comes to comprehending both stocks and shares, understanding shares is more vital than comprehending stocks. Understanding shares can help you learn what par value, face value, and issued premium and discounted imply. 


You'll also be able to understand the differences between stock and preferred shares. On the other hand, the stock is all about recognising that an individual or group of investors has made a stock investment.

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