Difference Between Attain and Obtain (With Table)

Attain and obtain are two different words that are usually considered as the same words having the same meanings but are different and have their different meanings. So, we will discuss the difference between these two words. “Attain” means to achieve your goal with some effort, and “Obtain” means to acquire something.

Attain vs Obtain

The difference between Attain and Obtain is that attain means to achieve something with effort and obtain means to achieve something without effort. Both words mean ‘to get something’. For example, she attained a degree in English, or he obtained the money through his business.

Attain means to accomplish something with some effort. Attaining anything demands a lot of effort and hard work. It’s all about reaching your goal. Attain word only implies achieving something. People usually use Attain to talk about professional goals. You can attain a high-ranking position at your company. For example, he attained the highest marks in CA.

Obtain is a verb, and it means to gain possession of something without any effort or hard work. This word is mostly used when we acquire anything. Obtain words are also used for bringing out any idea regarding someone’s success. It is the word that is close to the attained, which means achieving something. For example, he managed to obtain a position in the company.

Comparison Table Between Attain and Obtain

Parameters of ComparisonAttainObtain
MeaningTo achieveTo acquire
UsageUsed to achieve goalsUsed to gain possession of something
EffortEffort or hard work is requiredEffort or hard work is not required
FormalityIt is a formal wordIt is also a formal word
AdjectiveAttainable is the adjective of word attainObtainable is the adjective of word obtain

What is Attain?

The verb attains means to accomplish, gain or obtain something with some effort and hard work. It means to succeed in achieving something. You can attain a goal by doing hard work. Attain is a formal word. You can understand the word attain as succeeding in doing something. As we all know, attaining something demands a lot of effort. Some examples of word attain are as follows

● They attained the highest ranks in the military exams.

● He attained his goal by working hard.

You can observe from the given examples that effort must be involved in attaining the necessary goals. The word attain is usually used when we want to highlight something that is coming or arriving. Attain is all about getting something. Attain is a verb that means to reach a goal or get some achievement.

The word attain implies achieving any objective through a lot of hard work and effort. We often use Attain to talk about academic goals. It is a word that is directly proportional to accomplishment. Some examples of the word attain are as follows:

● After many days of travelling, he finally attained his destination.

● After a lot of hard work, she attained his mathematics degree.

What is Obtain?

The verb obtains means to get, acquire or secure something. It means to gain something by planned action without any effort or hard work. Obtain is a formal word. Obtain means to get possession of anything. The most interesting thing about the word obtain is that these words start from “ob”, which is usually used by people to obtain any object, and the word object also starts with “ob”. For example

● The man obtained the tools that he needed for plumbing.

● He obtained a bonus through his business connection.

The word obtains means to come into possession of something. We often use this word to acquire something. We usually see this word in formal writing. We have understood that we use words obtained for those objects that are acquired. It can also be used to bring the idea about someone’s success. The word obtain is quite similar to the word attain, which highlights achieving something.

The most important thing that you have to keep in your mind is that attaining it requires a lot of sacrifices, effort, and hard work, while these things are not necessary for obtaining. It only depends upon the possession of something. Here are some examples which are given below:

● He obtained a job in university as a professor.

● He obtained all the stationery for his exams.

Main Differences Between Attain and Obtain

  1. Attain means to work hard to achieve your goals while obtain means coming into possession of something.
  2. Attain requires a lot of effort, while obtaining does not require effort.
  3. The word attainable is the adjective of the attain, while obtainable is the adjective of the obtain.
  4. Attain requires a lot of sacrifices and hard work, while obtaining does not require any sacrifice.
  5. Attain does not demand any planned action, but it demands a hard word, whereas the word obtained demands a planned action.


Attain and obtain are words that are sometimes used interchangeably by the people. Understanding the differences between these two terms will help you in understanding their meaning and whenever we will use them in a sentence. These words are very similar to each other, but the most important thing is to recognize their meanings. Attain implies achieving any objective through a lot of hard work and effort while obtains means to come into possession of something.

Attain involves hard work and effort, while obtaining does not involve hard work and effort. Attain is a verb that means to achieve your goal, while obtain is also a verb that means acquiring possession of something. If we consider the word obtain as an intransitive verb, then it means that to establish something. In simple words, attain is a verb that is all about getting something with effort, and obtaining means acquiring something.


  1. https://journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/amr.1993.9402210156
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1537-2995.2009.02314.x
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