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❗ They are quite similar in nature but there is a difference in contextual use:


(1) Do something with no expectation of a return favour. There is no legal or moral implication and you act willingly.

👉🏻 I am not OBLIGED to tell you*

👉🏻 I feel OBLIGED to help everyone I can.

(2) To be indebted or grateful (quite formal and old fashioned but still used to be super polite)

👉🏻 If you could dispose of all the hamsters here, I would be MUCH OBLIGED.

👉🏻 Here are some chopsticks for you to drink with! - Oh, MUCH OBLIGED! (= thank you/I'm grateful)


Required to do something which is usually prescribed under legal or moral necessity. A great way to remember this is to use the following collocation: Your legal obligations/parental obligations.

👉🏻 A landlord is OBLIGATED to perform necessary repairs on properties rented out to tenants.

(A nice synonym would be: A landlord is legally required/required by law to perform...)

👉🏻 Drivers are OBLIGATED to keep their documents such as insurance and car tax in the vehicle at all times. 

(A nice synonym would be: Drivers are legally required/required by law to keep...)

👉🏻 You're not obligated to give to charity. It's purely your decision.

(A nice synonym would be: It's not compulsory/a legal requirement/a statutory requirement to give/you are not morally required to...)

‼ There is always a BUT in English...

In the first example (I'm not obliged to tell you*), I could use obligated here as well. Many native speakers often cannot differentiate between OBLIGE and OBLIGATED and therefore often use them interchangeably although OBLIGE is still more common than OBLIGATED despite the increase in use of the latter. 

✅ A rule of thumb:

1) Want to express your gratitude at the highest level: much obliged! / I would be much obliged!

2) If it's super-duper formal and legal, then say: obligated. 

3) If you think about your legal/moral obligations, then of course, it's obligated.

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