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I think I've looked everywhere I could, but I couldn't find any dictionary where the difference between "to target at/on/for/towards" would be explained. Can you please fill me in as to how they are used? I need to explain it to a student and say more than just... "you'll know what to use" :)

  • Are you asking what preposition collocates with the verb target? What written examples have you found supporting variation here? – tchrist Nov 12 '16 at 15:56
  • well... i was wondering what the difference in meaning is between target at / target on etc... i can't provide you with an exact example :( – Justyna Barbara Helena Nov 26 '16 at 19:20
  • Does this help? oxforddictionary.so8848.com/search1?word=target – Robbie Goodwin Nov 27 '16 at 17:17
  • Its possible you have the usage confused. Target is typically the goal or object you wan to attain/hit. You "aim" at a target or synonymously you could also focus, sight or 'draw a bead on...' a target. ...Or even shoot for/at a target. – KarlC Jan 27 '17 at 0:56
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Perhaps I am missing the point, but 'Target' as a verb is usually used without a preposition following it. As in:

'Let's target a 50% increase in sales this year'.

The passive voice uses prepositions after Target, as witnessed by the following extractions from Cambridge and Oxford online dictionaries, in that order

Screen capture from Cambridge online definition of target

Screen capture from Oxford online definition of target

The use of 'Aim' would include a preposition, as in:

'Let's aim for a 50% increase in sales this year'.

As far as use is concerned (which wasn't the question, but I think it's relevant), 'Target' is less used as a verb than 'Aim', but it's not unknown. Ngram gives the following result for the search 'let's target, let's aim'. I considered searching for 'to target, to aim', but I think the results were skewed by such phrases as 'missile time to target'.

Ngram results for let's target vs let's aim

Testing 'We'll aim, We'll target' gave the following results:

Ngram results for We'll aim, We'll target

  • Small point: where an image is exclusively text, please take the time to create an accessible/searchable version in your answer (and link to the original). Simply including an image is not accessible at all. – Andrew Leach Jul 21 '17 at 16:50
  • @AndrewLeach Point taken. I have made the dictionary searches clickable and added alt text descriptions of the screenshots as well as the Ngram searches. – Ian Jul 21 '17 at 16:55
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I can easily use "to target on" in a sentence, but come up empty trying to think of an instance where one would use "to target at", "to target for", or "to target towards". Is it because use of the word target as a verb means the same as shoot toward? If that is the case, then we place a target "on" where we wish to shoot or focus our aim. Thus "to target on" means to place a target on a goal... and the other prepositions don't do this. However, in trying to make a sentence with "target" as a verb and "on" may be wrong too. Consider, 1. "this year we will place a target on increasing sales" vs. 2. "this year we will target on increasing sales" vs. 3. "this year we will target increasing sales".
The first usage target is a noun, the second usage "on" goes with "increasing", not with "target", and there is no "on" in the third.

  • Its possible you have the usage confused. Target is typically the goal or object you wan to attain/hit. You "aim" at a target or synonymously you could also focus, sight or 'draw a bead on...' a target. ...Or even shoot for/at a target. – KarlC Jan 27 '17 at 0:54

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