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I'm reading an IT book. It says the purpose of the "activity X" is to do this... And the objective of the "activity X" is to do that... Finally the scope of "activity X" is this, this, and that....

I'm not a native speaker so I was wondering if there was a difference between those three words (especially for British people since it's a British book I'm reading

Link showing where instances of those words are seen in the context I'm studying

Why am I having a problem to understand this ? I went of the website wordreference.com but the translation given for these words are the same. In french they mean objectif and this is the first translation/meaning for all of them.

scope in french

objective in french

purpose in french

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    Welcome, Jason. Could you please tell us if you have done any preliminary research, namely looking up these three words in a dictionary? If you have, you should summarize what you found and what you still don't understand. Please see this topic at the Help Center. – vpn Aug 10 '17 at 17:00
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    @vpn Yes. I forgot to add that. I've updated my OP – Jason Krs Aug 10 '17 at 17:14
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    Purpose is why you are doing it. Objective is what you hope to accomplish. And scope is the breadth of what is being addressed. – Jim Aug 10 '17 at 18:13
  • @Jim: Nice succinct explanation, that should be an answer instead of just a comment imho. – Alok Aug 10 '17 at 19:13
  • @ Jim Very nice. @ – Jeff Morrow Aug 10 '17 at 19:26
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Yes, they're not the same. Just based on your own research links from the EN->FR reference, in this context you can see that:

  • Purpose is a reason to do something
  • Objective is a goal that you're trying to achieve
  • Scope is the extent of your work towards it

To use all 3 in a sentence together:

You are studying within the scope/extent of the given syllabus for the purpose/reason of acquiring the certificate which is your objective/goal.

In the above sentence, 'objective of acquiring certificate' is a valid phrase so it is a bit confusing. Consider the below sentence I got from Google autocomplete:

What purpose do committees serve in Congress?

This question is asking about the reason or justification for creating committees, not their goals (objectives) that they might be working on.

Interestingly, I found it hard to think of a non-question where purpose is used in the context where objective won't fit - looks like a 'reason' to act is always towards a 'goal'!

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  • This is exactly why I'm confused. You said " for the purpose/reason of acquiring the certificate which is your objective/goal " So the reason is the objective.... So it's the same thing !? Reason/purpose and goal/objective looks like synonym words – Jason Krs Aug 11 '17 at 6:35
  • @JasonKrs: a goal here is a "prize," be it physical such as a diploma or just satisfaction. The "purpose" is that you want to get the prize. – Carl Witthoft Aug 11 '17 at 11:36
  • @CarlWitthoft Thanks Carl. Am I right to say : One wants to satisfy his/her purpose by accomplishing the activities of the objectives (or simply by accomplishing the objectives). So the objectives are the activities to be carried out in order to reach a purpose ? – Jason Krs Aug 11 '17 at 12:26
  • @JasonKrs close... Try to think of "purpose" more as "motivation" than "final goal" – Carl Witthoft Aug 11 '17 at 13:09

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