Legal English in the US and UK: “stock” vs. “share”

I think I may have blogged about this before, but I can’t figure out why some people have the notion that “shares” and “shareholder” are the British English terms for acciones and accionista, while the American English equivalents are “stock” and “stockholder.”

Although many online sources insist that “stock” is the US term for “share,” this is simply not the case. Indeed, “share” and “shareholder” are actually the terms used in the American Bar Association’s Model Business Corporation Act (MBCA) and its revised version (RMBCA), adopted in whole or in part in over half of the fifty US states.

In that regard, in the United States corporate law is state law, and which of these terms are preferred perhaps depends on the terminology chosen in a given state’s corporation law or code. For example, in the Delaware General Corporation Law it’s “stock” and “stockholder,” while the California Corporations Code uses “share” and “shareholder.”

2 thoughts on “Legal English in the US and UK: “stock” vs. “share”

  1. You are absolutely correct, as usual. I think that an issue sometimes arises when referencing “acciones ordinarias,” which in UK/Euro English is often rendered as “ordinary shares” while in US English one would typically see “common stock.”

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    • Yes, thanks Steve. “acciones ordinarias” can be either “ordinary shares” or “common stock,” while “acciones privilegiadas” are either “preference shares” or “preferred stock.”

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