I would like to ask if the words oblige and accommodate are synonym ,to some extent, in a sense of "to help or to support" and so they can be replaced in the following sentences. Does it sound unnatural to use them instead of "help" in semi-formal context as in my sentence?

For example :

We always try to accommodate(oblige) our clients with financial assistance if necessary.

Could you oblige (accommodate) me with a pen and a piece of paper, please?

A new initiative launched by the government aims to oblige/accommodate the new graduates who want to create their own start-up. ( This is my sentence)

  • In normal contexts, "accommodate" means to provide a service to another, with some degree of willingness. "Oblige" means to be mandated to provide the service, though it does not imply that the service has actually been provided. (They also differ in how they relate to the verb's object.)
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 13, 2017 at 12:53
  • (Your second sentence is not idiomatic, with either word.)
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 13, 2017 at 12:55
  • @HotLicks Than you for your comment. I know the definitions you referred to but there are some other meanings too, such as help, of these words, However these meanings may not be in use commonly. I cited the second sentence from Cambridge Dictionary . Maybe it means like helping someone by providing something they need, not directly help so without context it may not sound natural to you.( I presume you are a native speaker of English)
    – Mrt
    Feb 13, 2017 at 13:11
  • @Mrt: You cited the second sentence from Cambridge Dictionary. Would you please provide a link to that? Thanks. Feb 13, 2017 at 13:38
  • @mahmudkoya the link is on the question
    – Mrt
    Feb 13, 2017 at 13:39

3 Answers 3


Oblige / Accommodate cannot be used in a sense "to help or support"

They are synonyms to some extent, but in the case when some thing is done to fit to the needs of a subject. This doesn't really qualify as help per se in your case as there is no indication if the government did this at the request of the new graduates

You can use the words aid/encourage more appropriately in this context


The words accommodate and oblige are almost synonymous in a sense 'to provide help/support'.

See one of the many definitions of 'accommodation' given by Merriam-Webster:

to provide with something desired, needed, or suited.

I needed money, and they accommodated me with a loan.

And, oblige:

to do something that someone has asked you to do : to do a favor for (someone)

When he was asked for advice, he obliged.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines 'oblige' :

to please or help someone, especially by doing something they have asked you to do:

We only went to the party to oblige some old friends who asked us to be there.

We needed a guide and he was only too happy to oblige.

In this sense, you can accommodate (as in your 1st sentence) your clients with financial assistance (by a arranging some loans or other facilities).

Your second sentence is exactly there in Cambridge Dictionary:

oblige sb with sth:(http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/oblige-sb-with-sth) ​

to help someone by giving them something:

Could you oblige me with a pen and a piece of paper, please?

In the 3rd one, 'accommodate' can be used in the sense 'to facilitate or support etc.'


To build on mahmud koya's answer, the terms have slightly different connotations.

Oblige typically means to acquiesce to exactly what was requested.


"I can't make it on Tuesday. Can we do it Wednesday?"
"Yes, we can change it to Wednesday."

Accommodate may involve finding a solution to a problem where that solution might be different from what was requested, or might be a specific solution to a more general problem statement.

Examples of accommodation:

"I need shelter for the night."
"I can rent you a room."

"I want the security guard to assist me in getting up the stairs because I'm confined to a wheel chair."
"The guard can't leave his station, but we can put in a ramp for you."

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