• Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

Aim and objective


Salvation! This week on Ask a Teacher, we’re answering a question from Paul in the Czech Republic.


Could you tell me the difference between the words objective, target, objective and goal? When should I use each?

Paul, Czech Republic.


Dear Paul,

Thanks for writing to us. These words are similar. As nouns, they all mean something you are trying to do or make to happen. But we often use two to describe an object we can touch.

Goal and target

“Target” and “objective” can be used in sports. In soccer, players try to send a ball into the other team’s goal, an area at the end of the playing field marked with a report. We say a player “Brand a goal ”, as in this example:

Abby Wambach broke the women’s football record scoring 184 goals.

South Korea’s An San competes in the women’s individual event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Yumenoshima Park archery field in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. (Photo ADEK BERRY / AFP)

In the sport of archery, you’re trying to get an arrow to hit a “target”. We use the word this way to describe archery:

To get a high score, your arrow must hit near the center of the target.

When we use “target” to talk about what we want to do in the short term, it is often an exact number, like in this example:

Our sales target for the coming month is $ 1,000 per day.

The final of the Iranian Women's Archery Ranking Competitions Photo: Mona Hobeh Fekr

The final of the Iranian Women’s Archery Ranking Competitions Photo: Mona Hobeh Fekr

Contrast that with using “goal” to talk about something more general that you want to happen in the future, as in:

Her goal is to become the president of the company.

Objective and purpose

We use these two words along with “goal” and “goal” to talk about our goals. Often times, people decide their “goals” as a group or organization. For example:

The senator said, “Our goal today is to pass this bill. “

Finally, we can use “aim” as a verb which means to direct the effort towards a goal in this way:

I plan to plant ten trees today.

What question to do you have on American English? Email us at [email protected]

And it’s Ask a teacher.

I am Jill Robbins.

Dr Jill Robbins wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.


Words in this story

reportm. a device which is used for grabbing or holding things or for keeping things out of a space and which is made of pieces of string, rope, thread, etc., woven together with spaces in between

Goal v. to obtain points, goals, races, etc., in a game or competitions

archerynm the sport or skill of shooting with a bow and arrow

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