Difference between Aim and Purpose

Key Difference: Aim is setting a determined course in order to achieve a set target. Aims are usually long term. Aims can be called as long-term goals. Aims determine a set course or a target at the end that a person wants to reach. Purpose tries to gauge at the reason behind something that is being done. Purpose defines why the person is doing something he is doing, what is his reasoning behind doing a particular thing and what he plans to achieve from it.

Aim and purpose are two terms that are noted as being synonyms in many thesauruses. To many people these words are the same thing and used interchangeably. However, to many people that are not well-versed with English grammar can vouch that some terminology in grammar are quite difficult. It is difficult to even further explain those. Aim and purpose are two of such words. Though they are considered to be similar in many ways, these two words are also used differently in certain contexts and scenarios. While aim refers to intention to do something, purpose defines why one wants to do that particular something.

Aim is setting a determined course in order to achieve a set target. Aims are usually long term. Aims can be called as long-term goals. Aims determine a set course or a target at the end that a person wants to reach. Aim can also be used to describe how determined a person is to reach a certain point in their life. Aims require determination and persistence, it requires that the person stay on a set path and complete the requirements to reach that aim at the end. Aim is pretty vague and does not state what the person will do; it just states what a person wants or sees at the end of the line. An example of aim includes: The person aims to acquire the required doctorate to become a doctor.

The Free Dictionary defines ‘aim’ as:

  • To direct toward or intend for a particular goal or group.
  • To determine a course or direct an effort.
  • To propose to do something; intend.

Purpose tries to gauge at the reason behind something that is being done. Purpose defines why the person is doing something he is doing, what is his reasoning behind doing a particular thing and what he plans to achieve from it. For example: Jim’s purpose behind the petition is to stop corruption. As this statement states, Jim is creating a petition but the reason for the petition is to fight corruption. That becomes the purpose of the statement. Another context purpose can be used is to show determination of doing something. For example the statement, “I have a purpose of seeing my name cleared of any accusation.” This statement shows that the person is determined to see their name cleared, that becomes their commitment.

Dictionary.com defines ‘purpose’ as:

  • The reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
  • An intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
  • Determination; resoluteness.

Many scenarios state that aim and purpose are two words that refer to the same thing and can be interchanged. These both words define a result or an end that is intended. It conveys a point which a person wants to reach. For example: Jim’s purpose was to reach the top of management ladder. The word purpose can also be replaced with the word aim and would still mean the same thing. Example: Jim’s aim was to reach the top of the management ladder.

Now, the word purpose is not limited to only this definition as you can see from the above sentence. The word can also be used in a context where it states why the person wants to do something. For example: Charlie’s purpose to install new computers was to increase productivity. This statement shows that Charlie had new computers installed as it would increase the productivity of his employees. Aim and purpose can also be used in the same sentence to provide a much clearer picture. Example: John’s aim was to reach the airport at 6 p.m. two hours before his flight. His purpose was to visit duty-free shops at the airport. This statement shows what John’s aim was and why did he do what he did.

Image Courtesy: parentwellbeing.com, unleashingyou.org

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