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Difference Between Stocks and Shares

Stocks, Shares, Investment, Growth, Portfolio

The Indian stock market thrives on the concept of ownership in companies. But have you ever wondered about the terms "stocks" and "shares"? They might seem interchangeable, but there are subtle differences. This blog cuts through the jargon and empowers you to understand the distinction between stocks and shares.

Stocks and Shares Explained

Think of a famous bakery known for its delicious cookies. You've always admired their success and want to be a part of it (in a financial sense, not by eating all their cookies!). This bakery represents a company on the stock market.


Owning a stock represents a partnership in the bakery. It signifies that you have invested in the bakery's success, just like buying a whole box of their famous cookies.

  • Concept: A stock represents a partial ownership stake in a company.
  • Analogy: Stock acts as a part of the bakery. Owning a stock means you own a portion of the company, just like owning a cookie gives you a part of the box.
  • Benefits: As a partial owner (shareholder), you might be entitled to a share of the bakery's profits (dividends) and voting rights on certain company decisions.


Each individual cookie in the box represents a share. You can buy or sell these shares (cookies) depending on your appetite (investment goals).

  • Concept: A share is a single unit of ownership within a stock.
  • Analogy: The bakery divides its ownership into smaller units, like individual cookies. Each cookie represents a single share.
  • Quantity Matters: The number of shares you own determines the extent of your ownership stake. Owning 100 shares signifies a larger ownership stake than owning 10 shares.

Understanding the Difference between stocks and shares

While both "stocks" and "shares" are related to ownership in a company, there are subtle distinctions:





Represents part-ownership in one or more companies.

Units of ownership within a specific stock.

Ownership Level

Broader level of ownership.

A specific portion of ownership within a stock.

Original Issue

Stocks are not a part of the original issue, shares are converted into stocks later.

Part of the Original issue


A box of cookies from a bakery

An individual cookie in the box


Common and Preferred are two main types of Stocks.

Equity and Preferred are two main types of Shares.


Your portfolio can consist of stocks from various companies

Each stock is further divided into shares

Nominal Value

Not Associated with Nominal Value

Associated with Nominal Value

Paid up value

Fully paid.

May be partially or fully paid


More generic term.

More specific term.


If you say "I invest in stocks," it could imply shares in various companies.

If you say "I bought 100 shares of ITC," it specifies ownership within a particular company.

Stocks and Portfolios

While "stocks" is often used interchangeably with "shares," a subtle difference exists. Typically, you'll invest in multiple companies, meaning you'll own various stocks (slices from different bakeries). Your overall investment portfolio will comprise these individual stocks, each containing a specific number of shares (cookies).

Investing in Your Favorite Companies

Imagine you're interested in investing in two companies: Reliance Industries (RIL) and HDFC Bank.

Investing in RIL: You might purchase 50 shares of RIL stock. This means you own 50 individual units of ownership within Reliance Industries.

Investing in HDFC Bank: You might decide to buy 100 shares of HDFC Bank stock. This translates to owning 100 units of ownership in HDFC Bank.

Types of Stocks

understanding of the different types of stocks available, you can navigate your investment journey with more confidence. Here's a breakdown of some common stock classifications:

By Ownership Rights

Common Stock 

These are the most common type of stock. They represent ownership in a company and entitle you to voting rights on company decisions (one vote per share) and potential dividend payouts (a portion of the company's profits).

Preferred Stock

These stocks prioritize dividend payouts over common stock but typically don't come with voting rights. They offer a more stable income stream but may have limited growth potential compared to common stock.

By Market Capitalization

Large-Cap Stocks

These represent well-established, financially stable companies with a market value exceeding ₹10 billion. They offer lower volatility (less price fluctuation) but potentially lower returns compared to smaller companies.

Mid-Cap Stocks

These are companies with a market capitalization between ₹2 billion and ₹10 billion. They offer a balance between growth potential and risk, with more price movement than large-cap stocks.

Small-Cap Stocks

These are smaller companies with a market value below ₹2 billion. They offer the potential for high growth but also carry a higher risk of volatility and potential for failure.

By Investment Strategy

Growth Stocks

These are companies anticipated to experience above-average growth in the future. They may reinvest profits back into the business for expansion, leading to less focus on dividends.

Value Stocks: These are companies whose stock price is considered undervalued compared to their financial fundamentals. They may offer higher dividend yields but may have slower growth potential.

Income Stocks

These are stocks chosen primarily for their consistent dividend payouts, providing a regular source of income for investors.

Investing in Stocks

When you invest in the stock market, you're essentially buying stocks (or shares) of publicly traded companies. This grants you a stake in the company's performance. Here are some key points to remember about stock ownership:

Voting Rights

Depending on the type of stock, you might have voting rights on company decisions.

Profit Sharing (Dividends)

Profitable companies might share their earnings with shareholders through dividends.

Capital Appreciation

Ideally, the value of your stocks (and shares) increases over time, leading to capital gains when you sell.

Understanding the "Share" Perspective

Now, let's zoom in on that box of cookies (stock). Each individual cookie represents a share. Here's what the concept of shares implies:


A stock (box of cookies) can be divided into multiple shares (individual cookies). You can choose to buy or sell a specific number of shares depending on your investment goals.

Price Fluctuations

The price of individual shares (cookies) can fluctuate based on the bakery's performance and overall market conditions. (The price per cookie might change depending on demand and ingredient costs!)

Trading Convenience

Shares (cookies) are easily bought and sold on the stock market, allowing for flexible investment strategies. (You can easily buy or sell some cookies without having to buy the whole box!)

Types of Shares 

Not all shares are created equal. Here's a glimpse into the two main categories of shares in India. Companies can have different types of shares, such as common shares and preference shares, with varying rights and benefits for shareholders. Let’s have a deeper look into the same:

Equity Shares (Ordinary Shares)

These are the most common types of shares. When you buy an equity share, you become a part-owner of the company. Ownership translates to several rights:

  • Voting Rights: You get a say in important company decisions by voting at shareholder meetings. The number of votes typically corresponds to the number of shares you hold.
  • Profit Sharing (Dividends): Companies may distribute a portion of their profits to shareholders as dividends. The amount you receive depends on the company's performance and the number of shares you own.
  • Capital Appreciation: Ideally, the value of your shares will increase over time as the company grows. You can then sell them at a profit.

 Preference Shares

These shares offer certain preferential rights to holders compared to equity shareholders. Here are some key characteristics:

  • Dividends: Preference shareholders receive dividends before any dividends are paid to equity shareholders. However, the dividend amount is usually fixed.
  • Voting Rights: Preference shareholders might have limited or no voting rights. This can vary depending on the specific type of preference share.
  • Repayment in Case of Liquidation: In the event of a company's liquidation (closure), preference shareholders get their invested capital back before equity shareholders.

Investing with Clarity: Stocks vs. Shares

Now that you understand the difference, here's how to approach investing:

Investing in Stocks 

When you invest in stocks, you're essentially buying a portion of ownership in one or more companies. You can invest in individual stocks or through mutual funds, which pool your money with other investors to buy a variety of stocks.

Investing in Shares

Technically, you don't directly invest in "shares." You invest in stocks, which are further divided into shares. The number of shares you purchase determines your ownership stake within that particular stock.


The Indian stock market offers a wealth of opportunities. By understanding the distinction between stocks and shares, you're well on your way to becoming a more informed investor. Take the first step towards your financial goals and embark on your investment journey today!


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