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Obligated vs. Obliged

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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Sometimes verbs have meanings that are very similar, but they different enough to maintain separate usage cases. Obligated and obliged are great examples of this. Both words refer to required actions, but they each have specific contexts that are just different enough that each word feels out-of-place when substituted for the other. Both of these words can also be a past participle, which is a verb that is used as an adjective. This usage is more common in some contexts than others, but continue reading to learn how to use each of these important verbs.

In this post, I will compare obliged vs. obligated. As part of this comparison, I will illustrate the correct use of each word with example sentences and definition. I will also demonstrate how to use a memory tool that will help you choose obligated or obliged when you need to use one of these words.


The word obligate originated from late Middle English (as an adjective in the sense ‘bound by law’): from Latin obligatus, past participle of obligare (see oblige). The current adjectival use dates from the late 19th century. Obliged originated from Middle English (in the sense ‘bind by oath’): from Old French obliger, from Latin obligare, from ob- ‘towards’ + ligare ‘to bind’.

Obligated as verb:

Obligated is the past tense of the noun obligate which means require or compel (someone) to undertake a legal or moral duty.

The medical establishment is obligated to take action in the best interest of the public.

Obligate means in US to commit (assets) as security.

The money must be obligated within 30 days.

Obliged as verb:

The word oblige is the past tense of verb oblige which means to make (someone) legally or morally bound to do something.

Obligated vs. Obliged

Doctors are obliged by law to keep patients alive while there is a chance of recovery.


One of the parties with a reporting duty is the housing company, which in this case gave the task to the property management company to take care of. In addition to the housing company, numerous subcontractors, ranging from companies removing asbestos to electric engineering firms, are obliged to submit reports to the Tax Administration. [Helsinki Times]

A member from their team went to different people at a restaurant and asked them for food, telling them how hungry he was. Not surprisingly, no one obliged him. [NDTV]

Those who have university degrees also felt less obligated to take care of their parents than those who never pursued post-secondary education. [Korea Herald]

Douglas County is not obligated to contribute the same amount to retiree health plans as it does for active employees, the Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled. [Daily Journal]

Obliged or obligated:

Obliged and obligated are verbs that mean required to do something. Obligated has legal and moral aspects, while obliged does not always. Obliged can also have a meaning similar to grateful. Luckily, there is an easy trick to remember obligated vs. obliged. Since obligated has legal and moral connotations, and obligated, legal, and moral all contain the letter A, you can use this shared letter to remember that obligated has legal or moral connotations.


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"Obligated vs. Obliged." STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 15 Oct. 2019. <>.

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