Writing for Business

Jul 21 2009   2:19PM GMT

Which is correct — attain or obtain?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

typing Which is correct?
Application streaming and virtualization can help you _______ greater network efficiency.
a. attain
b. obtain

Answer: a

Explanation: To attain is to achieve something, often through dint of effort. For example, you might attain a speed of 40 mph cycling (assuming you’re Lance Armstrong). Or you might attain a height of 6 feet.

To obtain just means to get and, in general, to get a physical object.

Paul Brian’s Common Errors in English Usage covers attain vs. obtain.

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