Attain versus Obtain

When to Use Attain


Attain is a verb that means to accomplish, reach, or achieve something through effort. You can attain a goal that you set for yourself or attain a high-ranking position at your job. For example,

  • After six months, I attained my goal of losing 15 pounds.

    When to Use Obtain

    Obtain is also a verb, but it means to get, to acquire, or to gain possession of something. For example,

  • I obtained the latest copy of The Wall Street Journal.

    While attain implies there was some effort put forth to produce an outcome, that is not necessarily the case with obtain.


    Summary

    To attain something is to reach or achieve a goal.

    Attain involves work and effort.
    To obtain something is to take ownership of it and is unrelated to any level of difficulty.

    To summarize,

    Attain is a verb that means reaching or achieving a goal.

    Obtain is a verb that means acquiring or gaining possession of something.


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