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Attribute vs Contribute


  • ‘Attribute’ (verb) means ‘consider as being caused by something’.
  • ‘Contribute’ (verb) means ‘help to cause or bring something into existence; provide money or support towards a goal or cause’.

What’s the difference between ‘attribute’ and ‘contribute’?

As they differ only in their prefix, it is easy to confuse these two words. Furthermore, both are often followed by the preposition ‘to’. However, they mean different things.

  • ‘Attributing’ is assigning someone/something to be the cause of something, whereas ‘contributing’ is helping to cause something.
  • ‘Attribute’ can also be used as a noun, meaning a quality or characteristic.

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How they’re used

Example sentences with ‘attribute’

  • They attributed academic success to external factors.
  • The authors attribute this phenomenon to two main causes.

Example sentences with ‘contribute’

  • Citations contribute to the impact factor of academic journals.
  • Participants were given the opportunity to contribute knowledge.