Attain vs. Obtain

To attain means to reach as an end, to gain or achieve a goal through some growth, effort, or progression.

Example:

The report stated that the company had attained a perfect safety record for the quarter.

To obtain means to acquire, get hold of, procure, or possess.

Example:

He obtained a copy of the report the day before it was to be released.

Obtain also has a second meaning as an intransitive verb, which takes no object.

It means to exist, to prevail, or to be customary or established.

Example:

Because the original plan no longer obtains, we will need to revise the budget.

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