To attain (tr. vs intr.)


Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
American Heritage Dictionary
v. tr.
1. To gain as an objective; achieve:
attain a diploma by hard work.
v. intr.
To succeed in a directed effort, process, or progression:
eventually attained to wisdom. (He who has attained to only some degree of freedom of mind... [I've just read this in one book and it was actually the cause of my posting this question])
1. (tr) to achieve or accomplish (a task, goal, aim, etc.)
2. (intr; often foll by to) to arrive (at) with effort or exertion

Q: I just can't quite put my finger on the difference between the transitive and intransitive usage of the verb "attain". Can it be that the former lays stress on my achievement/accomplishment of something, whereas the latter accentuates my efforts/energy I had to put in while achieving/accomplishing something?

  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    Hello, Suprun P. Generally, "attaining something", used transitively, means that somebody has achieved or gained that thing.

    "Attaining to something" generally means that somebody tries to do something, but it doesn't imply that this person actually achieved what he was trying to do.
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