I want to say "it is not compulsory for children between the ages of 3 and 6 to go to kindergarten". Would it be "Es ist für Kinder im Alter von 3 bis 6 nicht obligatorisch (oder zwingend) in den Kindergarten gehen? Does it matter what word I use?

  • 2
    Frankly, both sound slightly unidiomatic in this context. I'd go with verpflichtend, or even rewrite the sentence using " ... müssen nicht ..."
    – Ingmar
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 20:29
  • 1
    I try to restrict my use of obligatorisch (and fakultativ) to Academese. Another similar word is vorgeschrieben.
    – Crissov
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 8:26
  • „... zu gehen“
    – Carsten S
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 14:56

1 Answer 1


Yet, it matters. There is a difference in tone and thus in meaning.

If you have to decide between those two choices, you’d probably go with obligatorisch, because it’s close to “mandatory”. It may be interpreted as “bound by duty”. With a slightly stricter connotation, zwingend might sound to much like compulsion or even enforcement.

If you’re not under constraint regarding your choice of words, you have various alternatives, like erforderlich (“required to”) or verpflichtend (“compulsory”, rather duty than constraint) or notwendig (“necessary”) or bindend (“binding”).

Note that you’ll find corresponding translations for all of these words due to their related meaning. It depends on context how it’s interpreted.

  • @user19770: Gladly. I just hope it didn’t create too much confusion showing some of the alternatives.
    – dakab
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 10:11

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