Required Vs Mandatory, Differences Between These Words

Some actions are necessary for the proper functioning of a procedure. However, what is the difference between something that is required and something mandatory?

When something is required, it is necessary to complete an action or achieve a goal. When something is mandatory, it is obligatory, usually because some law or rule imposed it. The difference is that what is required is vital to completing a process, and mandatory is something you must do.

In this article, we will see the definition of “required” and “mandatory,” the synonyms of each word, their antonyms, and how to use each term correctly.

required sign

Definition of “Required”

“Required” can be defined as something necessary for the fulfillment of a proposed objective. It is something indispensable.

Some examples of using the word are:

  1. To fulfill the academic program, you are required to complete three credits of mathematics, four of social studies, two of English, and one of the arts. So far, you are two credits short of math; therefore, you cannot graduate yet.
  2. When a person has good manners and education, they are not required to be supervised while left home alone.
  3. I am in the middle of a lawsuit against a clothing store because an employee robbed me. My attorney told me that more evidence is required to ensure the victory of the case.
  4. In my home, we find ourselves in a difficult situation. We cannot get the money required to pay off the debts, and they are growing more every day. I think we will have to sell our belongings.

Definition of “Mandatory”

Mandatory refers to something that is required by law or by some rule.

Some examples of the correct use of the word are:

  1. General studies are mandatory for many professions, such as science, medicine, architecture, engineering, and social communication.
  2. I went on a vacation to the Bahamas on a cruise two years ago. Before boarding, it was mandatory to take first aid courses and take swimming classes. To tell the truth, when I read the rules, I was a little scared, but everything turned out very well.
  3. In my job, it is mandatory to sign a 5-year confidentiality contract. If we breach it, we must pay a sum of ten thousand euros.
  4. In my neighborhood, it is mandatory that children wear helmets when riding bicycles. Since the district imposed that rule, fewer accidents and more children playing in the street have been reduced.

Synonyms Of “Required”

Essential

Essential means that it is crucial and necessary so that it will not continue without it.

Examples:

  1. For our trip, we have the essentials: plane tickets, an apartment to sleep in and warm clothes for the snow. The other things that are not so important, such as tickets to museums or amusement parks, will leave it to luck.
  2. In my final research, I was able to collect the data for its development. I could not get the ones I wanted, but the ones obtained were essential for the proper development of the academic work.
  3. Combining theoretical with practical and audiovisual teachings is essential since not all students learn the same way. Changing the methods can be more beneficial for the student body.

Indispensable

Something indispensable is considered so necessary that it cannot be dispensed with or cannot be ignored.

Examples:

  1. In all groups, it is indispensable that there is a leader to put order or delegate assignments. Even in groups of leaders, there is always one person who is more proactive than the others and, therefore, takes care of the smooth running of the group.
  2. Computers are indispensable in our workplace because it is where we keep our database. If the system ever breaks down, the company will go bankrupt.
  3. For me, it is indispensable to read the newspaper while I have breakfast. This habit is because I work as a commentator on a news show, and if I don’t, I won’t be able to do my job correctly.

Necessary

Something necessary must occur, be done, exist, or be had for the existence, activity, or the correct state or functioning of someone or something.

Examples:

  1. Food is necessary for living things. Without food, they would not consume the energy required to perform vital activities such as breathing.
  2. Sofia filled out all the necessary paperwork to get the keys to her new apartment and then had to wait a long time for them to finish checking it.
  3. Sometimes it is necessary to take a deep breath and count to ten before speaking or making any important decisions because the mind is treacherous, and the feelings are deceitful.

mandatory sign

Synonyms of “Mandatory”

Compulsory

Compulsory refers to something that demands compliance or enforcement.

Examples:

  1. Primary education is compulsory for children to learn from an early age.
  2. Their investigations justified the law that made compulsory the use of ID to buy alcoholic beverages, thus eliminating any minor from consuming them.
  3. Education is compulsory in my city for those under 16 years of age.

Obligatory

Mandatory refers to making people do something without giving them a choice.

Examples:

  1. In some countries, it is obligatory for young people of legal age to serve in the military.
  2. Instruction in reading, mathematics, history, and geography is obligatory in elementary schools.
  3. In some cultures, there is an obligatory tax that the family must pay for each child.

Involuntary

Involuntary is something that is done without will.

Examples:

  1. The elections of our student council are involuntary. If the professors choose you, you must occupy the position.
  2. My household chores are involuntary. We do a raffle with everything that needs to be done, and whatever comes out, it’s your turn to do it.
  3. The girl was being detained without asking questions, but her detention was involuntary.

Antonyms of Both Terms

Although both terms have different meanings, their antonyms are the same.

Optional

When something is optional, it means that it can be chosen voluntarily or it is not mandatory.

Examples:

  1. Yacht trips are optional on our Caribbean adventure, but it is something we want to try.
  2. Adding cinnamon to coffee is optional, so I won’t. For me, the spice gives a foul taste to the drink.
  3. Our school uniform consists of a black shirt and navy blue skirt, an optional red coat, and brown or black shoes.

Voluntary

Something voluntary is something that does not require compliance or execution.

Examples:

  1. It is better to proceed with voluntary resignation than with mandatory dismissal. At least with the resignation, you leave the company with dignity.
  2. I want the uniform to be a voluntary piece because I don’t particularly appreciate how it fits and is too expensive.
  3. Two months ago, I took some virtual workshops. They were horrible since the sessions are too short and the attendance is voluntary.

Unessential

Unessential is something that is not necessary for the proper development of an activity.

Examples:

  1. The unessential information should go under the critical topics. They will be used more as a context than as an exact answer.
  2. In the architectural plan that I submitted yesterday, I placed three unessential columns. However, those columns gave an industrial look to the property I designed.
  3. Many products are unessential in my sister’s skincare routine, like a refrigerator to cool the products or a face roller.

Conclusion

Although the terms “required” and “mandatory” are usually used synonymously, there is a difference that can confuse some sentences. Typically, what is required is not necessarily mandatory. Therefore, you cannot substitute one word for another. Before using any two words, make sure you know if you will refer to some object or rule established by any law or regulation. In this way, you can avoid any mistakes in context.

Shawn Manaher

By Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.