There are two ends of a magnet- a north pole and a south pole. North and north together, and south and south together push each other apart; they repel. North and south attract one another.
Magnets can exert a force on objects because they can pull some objects towards them, or push objects away. Objects do not have to touch a magnet for an effect to be seen. They can pull through paper, glass, water, oil, and sand.
The area around the magnet that pulls objects toward it or pushes them away is called the magnetic field.