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  1. Newbie
    English Teacher
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      • Native Language:
      • Spanish
      • Home Country:
      • Peru
      • Current Location:
      • Peru

    • Join Date: Mar 2014
    • Posts: 1

    to be compelled vs to be obliged

    I know this has been discussed before, but I'm obliged to disagree with one of posts previously given by a moderator " bhaisahab "

    on his last post he said this:

    'I'm obliged to do it now.'

    This is the way I would say it, or 'I have to do it now'.

    'Compulsion' comes from within, so 'compelled' is not good in the context.
    Likewise with 'I can't help doing it now', it implies an internal desire. Whereas 'obliged' indicates an outside influence.

    I have to admit that his answer was pretty interesting and I was totally convinced at first, but then after a couple of days I checked the dictionary and I found these examples: "As a school boy he was compelled to wear shorts even in the winter" , "At school, we were compelled to wear uniforms, which I hated"
    taken from ,therefore I wondered, where is this compulsion that comes from within?

    In conclusion, what's the difference between these two words: compelled and obliged, and in which case we would prefer using one or another.
    I'd really appreciate your help!
    Thanks in advance

  2. VIP Member
    Interested in Language
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      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
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      • United States

    • Join Date: Apr 2009
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    You don't hear "obliged" much, at least in AmE. Outside of the stereotypical old cowboy who tips his hat and says "much obliged, ma'am" instead of "thank you."

    You can certainly be externally compelled as well as internally. Take a phrase like "compulsory education." If you don't send your kids to school, you are violating the law.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 14-Mar-2014 at 17:22. Reason: minor typo

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