Is it ‘obliged’ or ‘obligated’? Which one should you use? And what’s the difference between the two? We’ll clear this up in this article, plus you’ll learn how to use both words in a sentence correctly.
Don’t feel like skimming for the answer? Here’s the short one:
Never use these two words interchangeably because they mean two different things.
Only use ‘obliged’ when referring to being grateful or when you mean to take action as a favor or without a reward.
‘Obligated’ means being constrained or required legally or morally.
Avoid using these terms interchangeably because they have slightly different meanings, but they don’t qualify as homophones because they don’t sound the same.
As you just learned, ‘obliged’ means to take action as a favor or without a reward. It can also mean grateful.
‘Obligated’ usually has legal or moral meaning. It means being required to do something.
For example, in The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris Gardner feels obliged to make sure he can provide for his son. He’s a father and a husband. So, technically, it’s his legal duty to make sure his son is cared for properly.
In The Blind Side, Leigh Anne Tuohy felt obliged to help Michael Oher find a place to sleep. It wasn’t her legal duty, but she still felt a need and desire to help him.
Wondering what the dictionary says about these words?
Well, Merriam-Webster defines ‘oblige’ as doing a favor or service for someone or to constrain by physical, moral, or legal force.
The same dictionary defines ‘obligated’ as to bind legally or morally, to commit to meeting an obligation (promise you’ll do something), and biologically needed for survival.
Synonyms of the word include:
Let’s talk about pronunciation. Here’s a short guide to teach you how to say them.
Using ‘obliged’ and ‘obligated’ in a sentence should be easy, with the following as examples:
We’ve been through the trenches and learned all about ‘obliged’ and ‘obligated.’ To recap, we learned that:
Remember not to use these two words interchangeably because they mean two slightly different things.
If you ever get stuck on anything, you can always pop back over for a quick refresher. We’ve got a bunch of other content on other confusing words and phrases you might see while you’re learning the language. Feel free to check it out.