Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Obligated or Obliged?

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between obligated and obliged?

Obligated to be morally or legally bound to do something.

Obliged means to be in debt of gratitude because of a previous favor or service.

Obligated

Obligated means to be morally or legally bound to do something. When someone is obligated to do something, they have to comply (usually to comply with the law) regardless of their personal thoughts or interest.

Examples:
  • I am obligated to give you a speeding ticket.
  • I am not contractually obligated to a sequel. (Nicolas Cage)

Obliged

Obliged means to feel the need to pay back a previous benefit or service.

Examples:
  • I am obliged to take her to the airport because she showed my daughter how to do quadratic equations.
  • I feel obliged to contact you in regards to my fantastic experience at your hotel.
Note

Obligated and Obliged Are Participles

Obligated and obliged are the past participles of the verbs to obligate and to oblige.

Much Obliged

The word obliged is commonly seen in the term much obliged, which means "I am grateful."

Originally, this term carried the idea "I now owe you one." However, this connotation has been lost over time.
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