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Possible usage problems of the verb "achieve":

  1. to achieve success
  2. to achieve an award
  3. to achieve a new car

I am pretty sure that the first one is okay. What about the next two?

  • Usually for the second and third sentences, it is better to use "received" or "be awarded" or simply "get". – Varun Nair Dec 11 '15 at 6:10
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Yes, "achieve an award" can be used. For instance-

The Wikipedia page of Duke of Edinburgh's Award says-

The first Gold Awards were achieved in 1958

Participation in DofE programmes and the number of Awards achieved has grown every year since 1956

It's interesting to note however that both these sentences use "achieved" in the passive voice. That, I think, is the most common usage of awards being achieved.

A lesser authoritative source here does employ the usage of "achieve an award" as described in your examples, but I'm not sure how relevant it would be.

I am pleased to let you all know that we have achieved our Full International Award. You may remember last year we achieved this award at the intermediate stage but now we have achieved the full award.

However, I'm pretty sure that "achieved a car" would be incorrect usage. It may be used to imply something on the lines of- "achieved a car as the reward for my months' of hard work", but again, it's not seen often in day-to-day usage.

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You can achieve a goal, a skill level, results, success, etc. Definitely I've never heard of a car or award being achieved.

Something achieved is obtained through effort, but as far as I know, its mainly abstract concepts. So a car can be bought/purchased, an award can be won but not achieved.

Hope this helps you!

  • But, could an award or a new car be called an "achievement"? – meatie Aug 1 '14 at 2:39
  • If you got an award for selling 100 boxes of cookies, that would be an achievement. 3. is unlikely at best, but possibly with more context (the new car being some kind of goal). – user3169 Aug 1 '14 at 3:37
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to achieve a new car

I have never really heard this used despite living in the UK my entire life, however, if getting a new car is your goal then yes you have achieved it. As such this English can make sense, even if it is rarely used.

Other cases where this could be valid are:

  • if you win the car
  • If you set a saving goal
  • if you won a bid in an auction over someone else

Basically, thinking about it, this seems to be reliant on the method of acquisition. If the car were acquired via an achievement then it is an achievement in itself.

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