attain or gain?

MingBei

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

"
Adversity can make people more resilient. By surviving tragic circumstances, such as divorce, unemployment or poverty, people can gain the emotional and intellectual resources necessary to confront any future struggles they may face. "

Here, can I use "attain" to replace the "gain"?

I picked it up in the collins dictionary:

If you attain something, you gain it or achieve it, often after a lot of effort.

Here, "by surviving tragic circumstances" implies that "after a lot of effort", so I think the replace is ok, is it right?

But the dictionary said the word "attain" is "formal" , So it's uncommon in oral English?

Dictionary Source:
Attain definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

Thank you
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    In your example, you cannot replace "gain resources" with "attain resources". In the US "attain" and "gain" are both used, but the meaning is quite different.

    You "attain" a goal, such as a higher position in your company. It is similar to "achieve" or "reach".

    To "gain" something means you didn't have it before, and now you have it. It is similar to "obtain". You gain things, or money.

    Dictionaries are helpful, but they don't give you synonyms. In this case, they wrote a definition of "attain" for people who already understand "gain" and "achieve". That does not mean "gain" and "achieve" are synonyms for "attain".

    If you want a synonym, you use a "thesaurus" instead of a "dictionary". One online one is "thesaurus.com". But even with synonyms you must be careful. Synonyms are words that mean the same thing in some sentences. Words that mean the same thing in all sentences probably don't exist.
     

    MingBei

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    In your example, you cannot replace "gain resources" with "attain resources". In the US "attain" and "gain" are both used, but the meaning is quite different.

    You "attain" a goal, such as a higher position in your company. It is similar to "achieve" or "reach".

    To "gain" something means you didn't have it before, and now you have it. It is similar to "obtain". You gain things, or money.

    Dictionaries are helpful, but they don't give you synonyms. In this case, they wrote a definition of "attain" for people who already understand "gain" and "achieve". That does not mean "gain" and "achieve" are synonyms for "attain".

    If you want a synonym, you use a "thesaurus" instead of a "dictionary". One online one is "thesaurus.com". But even with synonyms you must be careful. Synonyms are words that mean the same thing in some sentences. Words that mean the same thing in all sentences probably don't exist.
    It is very useful and clear, and let me know that I need treat the definition of dictionaries.
    Thank you a looooooooot!:D
     
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