I am trying to share a SharePoint online sub-site which in turn shares the main site as well to my external clients, is there a way to share only the sub-site explicitly?
Any help will be appreciated.
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According to your explanation, I am guessing you have granted permissions to your end user through a group in Site collection.
In SharePoint, sub-sites inherits its permissions from the site collection. Also when you create a group anywhere in SharePoint it will store this group at site collection level. So a SharePoint Group can be used anywhere in the site collection. This does not span over different site collection though.
Create a new SharePoint group in sub-site and grant permission to that group on sub-site level only. then add your users in that group. don't grant any permissions to this group at site collection level (or maybe they should have Limited access).
Break Permission inheritance on sub-site level and grant only necessary permissions to end users on sub-site.
Reference: What is permissions inheritance?
Let me tell you the right way to do this.
Stop inheriting permissions since once you stop inheriting permissions, the changes made to the permissions of the parent site in the future will not apply to this subsite.
After this is done follow the steps below and check if it is indeed working out for you(technically it should only share the subsite and not the site).
Check if user is then only able to access the subsite or is he still able to access the parent site.
Let me know how this goes.
Just like other replies showed, you will need to create new SharePoint Group to hold all users who you only want to grant access to sub site. And break the permission inheritance in your sub site.
Steps will be like this: