I've noticed in IELTS reading that there was a sentence as below:

disappointing results were achieved by the Australian Academy.

I looked this verb up in Longman dictionary, It's been said that:

To get a good result or succeed in doing something.

It has positive meaning. How we could use "achieve" with the above sentence? Is it correct? Is this a good use of the verb?

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    The sentence The administration has achieved precisely nothing is perfectly grammatical. And, once again, dictionaries do not prescribe uses or meanings. Achieve certainly can have that meaning in some cases. Equally certainly, it doesn't have that meaning in other cases. Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 16:37

4 Answers 4


I think in this case it actually is being used in the sense you describe - even though the results were disappointing, they did achieve results, which is a typical positive use of achieve.


I think using it in that way is perfectly fine. Some quick Googling revealed the following phrases:

They achieve a very negative result, one which I have to think, is not what they really want.

The development sector is achieving failure

Astros achieve loss #105 by getting shut out by the Cardinals

Although in each of these cases, it seems to be used somewhat ironically.

  • +1: yes there can definitely be an ironic implication in that context. Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 22:03

You can say you have achived nothing from going to school, which is a typical negative use of the subject word.


I believe you can use it negatively but may require some form of positive element to the clause.

John just about managed to achieve a passing grade.

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