attain vs. obtain

Sun14

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello, my friends,

I have been reading a book named Common Errors in English usage written by Paul Brian, and he introduces the difference between "attain" vs "obtain":

Some things you obtain can also be attained. If you want to emphasize how hard you worked in college, you might say you attained your degree; but if you want emphasize that you have a valid degree that qualifies you for a certain job, you might say you obtained it. If you just bought it from a diploma mill for fifty bucks, you definitely only obtained it.

I consider the second "obtained" in bold might be a typo, since the author is trying to distinguish the two by examples.
 
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  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Some things you obtain can also be attained. If you want to emphasize how hard you worked in college, you might say you attained your degree; but if you want emphasize that you have a valid degree that qualifies you for a certain job, you might say you obtained it. If you just bought it from a diploma mill for fifty bucks, you definitely only obtained it.

    I found the example difficult to read easily as you left it, Sun. The spaces and font size are important. I expect that some got lost when you copied and pasted.

    I don't think it's a typo. He's pointing out two different circumstances in which one might say one obtained a degree, not, in that part of the sentence, distinguishing between obtaining and attaining.
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Yes. I know the words are a bit small. I tried to adjust it but failed. I will take more time to learn how to adjust next time. Maybe the examples are not so vivid and distinguishable. I think I need to read more. Thank you.
     
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