What's the Difference Between 'Attain' and 'Obtain'?

In this blog post we look at when to use attain and when to use obtain.

'Attain' or 'Obtain'?

'Attain' and 'obtain' are both verbs that mean to get or acquire something, but they are often used in slightly different contexts.


'Attain' generally implies that the thing being acquired is the result of effort or achievement, and it is often used in relation to goals or objectives. For example, you might say that someone attained success through hard work and dedication, or that they attained a degree after completing their studies.


'Obtain', on the other hand, can be used to refer to acquiring anything, whether it is the result of effort or not. It is often used in a more general sense to describe the act of acquiring something. For example, you might say that someone obtained a new job, or that they obtained a copy of a book.


Overall, the main difference between 'attain' and 'obtain' is that 'attain' implies a sense of accomplishment or achievement, while 'obtain' is more general and does not necessarily convey this sense.

Here are a few examples to illustrate the difference between 'attain' and 'obtain':

  • She attained her goal of becoming a doctor after years of hard work and dedication. (Here, 'attain' implies that the goal was achieved through effort.)

  • He obtained a copy of the book from the library. (Here, 'obtain' is used to describe the act of acquiring something, but there is no implication of effort or achievement.)

  • She attained a degree in engineering from a prestigious university. (Here, 'attain' implies that the degree was the result of effort, such as completing coursework and passing exams.)

  • They obtained tickets to the concert by standing in line at the box office. (Here, 'obtain' is used to describe the act of acquiring tickets, but there is no implication of effort or achievement beyond standing in line.)

Examples of Attain in a Sentence

  1. She is attaining her dream of becoming a professional athlete through hard work and determination.

  2. He will attain a degree in computer science after years of study and dedication.

  3. The company has attained a high level of success through innovative business strategies.

  4. She attained her goal of running a marathon in under four hours.

  5. The team worked hard to attain a victory in the championship game.

  6. He is attaining a promotion at work after consistently demonstrating his skills and dedication.

  7. The organization will attain its fundraising goal thanks to the efforts of its volunteers.

  8. She attained fluency in French after living in Paris for a year.

  9. The company is attaining a significant market share through aggressive marketing campaigns.

  10. He had attained a reputation as an expert in his field through years of research and publication.

Examples of Obtain in a Sentence

  1. She is obtaining a copy of the book from the library.

  2. He will obtain a new job after completing his degree.

  3. The company has obtained a contract to supply parts to a major manufacturer.

  4. She obtained her driver's license after passing the road test. (past tense)

  5. The team is obtaining tickets to the concert through a ticket agency.

  6. He obtained a loan from the bank to start his own business.

  7. The organization will obtain funding for its project through a grant application.

  8. She obtained permission to use the facility for the event.

  9. The company is obtaining new clients through targeted marketing efforts.

  10. He had obtained a degree in engineering before starting his career.

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Attain or Obtain
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