In this lesson, we're going to compare 'obtain' and 'attain'. If you want to make progress in the English language, learning these details might help you.

"Attain" vs. Obtain" in English

What Is Their Main Difference?

Both of these words refer to achieving something. However, 'attain' is used when we reach a goal, a set of criteria, etc. after trying for a long time. When attaining something, there is usually a bit of difficulty involved.
'Obtain', on the other hand, refers to getting something especially through effort, skill, or work, be it physical or non-physical.

Differences

'Attain' can be used to indicate reaching a specific degree, a set of criteria, a certificate, etc. Look at the following examples for more clarification:

My daughter attained a BA in English Literature last year.

It's satisfactory to know people tend to attain higher academic levels nowadays.

We can use 'obtain' to refer to getting something, whether a physical object or a characteristic, etc. Look at the following examples for more clarification:

If Mathew does not obtain the magical book, we will never know how we were created in the first place.

Gregory and Thomas both tried to obtain a high mark in the Literary Analysis courses.

Similarities

Both of these words indicate achieving something. Look below:

So, I ran back upstairs, obtained the book from my sister and came down again.

Here, 'obtain' means that draught exists.

Attaining enlightenment has never been easy for anyone.

Are They Interchangeable?

Although both of these words refer to achieving something, we cannot use them interchangeably. If you compare the following examples, you will understand that we cannot use 'attain' to refer to getting a particular object. Compare:

✓ Did you obtain all the necessary documents from the office?

✗ Did you attain all the necessary documents from the office?

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