I found several explanations. The most common one seem to be that "stock" represents the ownership of any company while "share" represents the ownership of a specific company. https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/difference-between-shares-and-stocks/ https://www.quora.com/What-is-difference-between-stock-and-shares

Thank you

2 Answers 2


Here's an overview:

Point One: For a private company (not one that is publicly listed on a stock exchange) or public company (one that is publicly listed on an exchange), one can own a share of it. That means a percentage. For a publicly listed company, a person could also own some percentage of a company. For example, you might own 10,000 shares in a company, and that could represent some percentage of the total number of shares. For example: a 2% share in the company. In that sense, share is uncountable. it means a percentage of ownership of the overall company. This use of share is often expressed as owning a 2% stake in a company. share, equity stake or equity share of a company are all the same thing.

Definition: equity stake, which is also called a share

Point Two: Now, in addition to the meaning that indicates percentage (to own a share of the company), you also own shares in a company. The shares (countable) are the units with value that you own. In a private, or privately held company, the owners decide what a share is worth; for public companies, the market decides what a share is worth. Listed shares also have a nominal value that is the value for a share on the books of the company.

Point Three: Companies are said to issue stock (the actual paper with the nominal value of the company on it; today, this is often virtual stock though paper stock certificates still exist).

Difference between stocks and shares:

"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." Read more: What's the difference between shares and stocks? | Investopedia difference between stocks and shares.

In general, the explanation above holds true for AmE and BrE.

Also, in general, I would ask you: How many IBM shares do you own?

I would ****not**** say: How many IBM stocks do you own?

Similarly, I would say: I don't own any stocks or bonds

I probably would not say: I don't own any shares or bonds.

However, I might say: He sold most of his IBM stock.
Used to mean all the shares he owned in IBM.

Point One: Definition: shares, nominal value and market value and general definition
Point Two: Definition: privately held company

  • @Lambie Thank you for detailed post. I can tell from my short research, most of the sources provide the above definition of stock (i.e. the one provided also by Invetopedia). However, it does not seem to fit the phrase "share of stock", which is very common. Is there another meaning of "stock"? I would expect something very close to what you mention in your point one - participation in owership of company.
    – Mat
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 8:12
  • To buy a share of stock? Actually, that is not like point one. It's the definition in point two. To buy a share of stock is to buy one unit of ownership or equity in the company: the number of shares you buy/own is printed on a stock certificate. Normally, more than one. One normally would buy a much greater number of shares. Take a look: google.com/…
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 13:33

I read your research shares v. stocks.

I interpret as follows:

A company issues stock and investors can purchase such. Investors can buy any number of shares of the stock of the company.

share TFD

a. One of the equal parts into which the capital stock of a company is divided: bought 200 shares of the company's stock. b. A unit of ownership in a mutual fund or other investment vehicle: bought two shares in a mutual fund. c. shares Chiefly British Stocks: European shares jumped two percent. The fund invests half the money in bonds and half in shares.

stock. TFD

a. A kind of financial security granting rights of ownership in a corporation, such as a claim to a portion of the assets and earnings of the corporation and the right to vote for the board of directors. Stock is issued and traded in units called shares. b. The stock issued by a particular company: a mutual fund that invests in technology stocks. c. Chiefly British The money invested in a corporation, including debt and equity. d. Chiefly British A bond, especially a government bond.

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