Stocks and Shares: A Quick Comparison for Dummies

If you’re just starting out in trading, it’s hard to clarify what is the difference between stocks and shares. So before you cash in your hard-earned money, let’s start familiarizing ourselves with the terms stock and shares for beginners.

Stocks and Shares Explained

For starters, a stock represents ownership, also known as equity. And a share represents an individual unit of ownership. Stocks and shares mean the same thing, which are small slices of companies that you own. In addition, there is no real difference between shares and equity.

4 hands raised with stock quotes as the background

However, you must consider the two terms indicate different types of relationships to the companies that you own.

In the American financial market, stocks and shares are related to the money market. These also include the trading and investment into businesses, products, and companies.

Furthermore, when you purchase any part of business’s assets, you are dealing with the economic trading of that particular company.

What is a share?

Shares refer to certain ownership certificates of any particular company you are looking to invest in.

Additionally, a business is divided into shares. And if you own the most shares of a company, you are essentially moving up that corporation. Therefore, the more money that is invested into a company, the more shares from that company you own.

You are then a shareholder due to the fact you own the smallest percentage of shares of a company. You will also receive income from the other shareholders.

What is a stock?

Stock is the overall ownership and investment into a company.

You may say you own a stock in a company, but it doesn’t explain how many shares you specifically own. It is used to refer to the investment in multiple companies as well.

Stocks and Shares Difference

To recap, stock represents ownership in a company. For a company to grow and develop, it needs to invest in their businesses. Stock markets provide them the opportunity to raise fund through selling parts of their businesses as shares or stocks. If you buy one, you own a small part of that company and become a shareholder.

several people on the floor of the new york stock exchange

When the stock of that company is sold, those units are called shares. A share is a unit of ownership, or equity, in a company or a corporation which can be bought or sold.

Share prices can go up or down depending on factors such as economic and industry conditions. If a company reports good news, like strong earnings, it’ll cause the share price to rise. However, if a report of a layoff or declining sales, it may cause the price to drop.

To learn more about the valuation of stock, read the Factors determining stock valuation.

Where to trade stocks or shares?

Shares of stock are traded on a stock exchange. The most common stock exchanges are the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange. Companies list their stocks for sale, where you can buy and sell with the help of a stockbroker. With the rise of the internet, investors can buy stocks and shares online almost instantly.

There are companies that may sell shares of common stock or preferred stock. To See more about this, read Different Types of Stocks and their Classifications.


In summary, stocks and shares are used interchangeably. There is no real legal or technical difference between the two.

To answer your question, stocks and shares are the same thing. Rather than financial or legal accuracy, the terms have more to do with syntax. It’s the same difference between a car and automobile.

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