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I'm doing some research into investing in shares (or stocks, not sure which) and I keep getting confused between shares and stocks. Are they the same thing?

Even on this site the two tags exist and are not synonyms. But if I type in BHP share price in Google and BHP stock price I get the same price graph.

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For all practical purposes the words mean the same thing. Shares are just stock in a particular company whereas stock can refer to shares over many companies. Investopedia has a good explanation.

If you are a financial journalist you might want to make sure you are using the right term at the right time, but otherwise they are synonyms.

  • Thanks, very useful. Stock = the whole thing, shares = stock in 1 company. So stock is the term I'd be generally using if I wanted to be correct. – Aequitas Jan 24 '16 at 22:29
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    "How much IBM stock do you own? I own 10 shares of that stock." – keshlam Jan 24 '16 at 22:52
  • Depends what country you're in. In the UK, government bonds are also referred to as government stocks, but they're obviously not shares. US government bonds also used to be called treasury stocks. – Mike Scott Jan 25 '16 at 7:31
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Technically, a stock certificate (which was/is a fancy printed piece of paper) indicates ownership of some number (typically 100) of shares of ownership in the company. Thus, when you buy stock in the company, what you get is shared ownership.

Terminologically, as the others have mentioned, there's no difference.

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