Difference Between Attain and Attend

Key Difference – Attain vs Attend

Attain and attend are two words that are often confused as they sound almost the same although these words are very different from one another when we consider the meanings. First before focusing on the difference between the attain and attend let us concentrate on the meanings of attain and attend. Attain is used when we want to refer to succeeding in something. Attend, on the other hand, is mostly used when we want to refer to participating or being present for something. As you can see, there is a key difference between the words in terms of their meanings. However, it is necessary to point out that other than these meanings; the words carry a myriad of alternative meanings which will be elaborated in this article.

What is Attain?

Attain is a verb. This can be used to generate the following meanings.

To achieve something

Lord Buddha attained Nibbana.

After years of hard work, she attained a degree in Physics.

Notice how the word attain has been used to emphasize the achievement of an individual. This can refer to an accomplishment of the individual such as a diploma, degree, award, etc. But it can also be used to refer to a non-material achievement as the first example displays.

To arrive at/ to reach

The guide pointed out that these trees can attain a great height over the years.

The refugees finally attained the borderline.

This mainly refers to the advancement in time, movement or even growth. In the first example, the word attain has been used to highlight growth, but in the second it highlights arriving at a place.

Key Difference - Attain vs Attend

Lord Buddha attained Nibbana.

What is Attend?

The word attend also consists of a number of meanings. They are as follows.

To participate or be present for something

We hope you would attend the conference.

Which school did you attend?

To give attention to something

She will attend to the matter directly.

The director attended to the problem the moment he heard of it.

To take care of someone/to wait on someone

She attended to the sick and the wounded all day long.

The maid attended the princess.

To listen to something

The villagers attended the words of the elders.

To focus on something

You will have to attend to the work immediately if you wish to leave early today.

As you can see the word attend carries a number of meanings. But these are entirely different to those of the word attain and should not be confused. Now let us summarize the differences as follows.

Difference Between Attain and Attend

Did you attend the conference yesterday?

What is the difference between Attain and Attend?

Definitions of Attain and Attend:

Attain: Attain refers to achieving something.

Attend: Attend refers to being present or participating in something.

Characteristics of Attain and Attend:


Attain: Attain is a verb.

Attend: Attend is also a verb.

Alternative meanings:

Attain: Attain can also refer to arriving at something. This can be a movement, growth or even passage of time.

Attend: The word attend has the following alternative meanings.

To give attention to something

To take care of someone/to wait on someone

To listen to something

To focus on something


Image Courtesy:

1. “Buddha preaching Abhidhamma in Tavatimsa” by Hintha – Own work. [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Commons

2. Messe Luzern Corporate Event By Messe Luzern AG (Messe Luzern) [CC BY-SA 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons