I'm pretty sure all of the following are correct and "normal":

  • You are obligated to wash your hands before returning to work.
  • The government obligate hand-washing of restaurant staff.
  • I am capable of washing my hands without reminders.
  • I think that's something most people are capable of.

But which of the following is correct, or better?

  • [x] is something everyone should be capable of, but no-one should be obligated of.
  • [x] is something everyone should be capable of, but no-one should be obligated to.

They both sound wrong, and I'm struggling to figure out why or what a better choice would be.

  • I don’t think you need to use a preposition after obligated in the last two examples. books.google.it/…
    – user 66974
    May 29, 2019 at 19:09
  • Really?? The gov’t says you can only wash restaurant staff by hand? Also, in AmE, the government obligates... But nobody would really say that, they’d say, “the government requires”
    – Jim
    May 29, 2019 at 21:59
  • I would say "hand-washing by restaurant staff"
    – Barmar
    May 30, 2019 at 0:40
  • 1
    , but no-one should be obligated to DO. Anyway, obliged is almost always better than obligated.
    – user339660
    May 30, 2019 at 3:33

1 Answer 1


The Oxford Online Dictionary defines obligate as

Require or compel (someone) to undertake a legal or moral duty.

and almost all the examples in that entry combine 'obligated' with 'to'

‘the medical establishment is obligated to take action in the best interest of the public’

‘So we ask, do I get a discount from you guys then because you are not delivering what you are contractually obligated to do?’

‘What is it about this particular ceremony that obligates people to travel vast distances, buy expensive casserole dishes, wear unnaturally tidy clothes, and take stupid numbers of photographs?’

‘To what extent should people be obligated to detail these potential shortcomings/differences in a social setting?’

‘You're not obligated to eat you mother's bean salad if you're not there.’

‘There is no law that can obligate a person to undergo medical treatment in order to save the life of another person.’

‘But the Court has not clearly decided whether a state law may obligate people (pedestrians or passengers, and not just drivers) to present identification once they are lawfully stopped.’

‘I often wonder where such people acquire the notion their freedom of speech obligates me to read, let alone publish, their ideas.’

‘I had dinner cooked for me last night so I am now obligated to make pikelets for breakfast.’

‘However, Kant claims that the moral law obligates us to consider the final purpose or aim of all moral action.’

‘When I disagree with you, I am not obligated to then repeat your response word for word out loud for all to hear.’

‘I am obligated to give you the correct answers so that they can see that we are talking sense.’

‘Senegal's 1973 family code obligates grooms to register their intentions at the time of the first marriage - opting for monogamy, limited polygamy with two wives, or full polygamy.’

‘Each member is obligated to contribute 2.5 percent of his salary or monthly income to the association.’

‘The Catholic faith I am part of obligates me to have moral courage.’

‘Many times this requires an interpreter, for whom the physician is obligated to pay.’

‘One is a world where people are obligated to have many children in order to increase total happiness.’

‘We have a number of things that we're obligated to do because of funding agreements.’

‘After completing their training, all medical workers are obligated to put in several years at a state medical facility

There are two examples which use no preposition

‘Purdha obligates Muslim women not reveal their body form so that the shape of the body remains unseen.’

‘The preposition with the verb shows that the meaning of ‘binding and obligating someone’ is implied here.’

However none of these examples uses "obligated of". This strongly suggests, if not proves, that the only preposition used with "obligated" is "to".

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