Empathy versus sympathy

Being where I learn about two words expressing a type of concern which I find difficulty in both understanding and expressing. Grammar Party is a great blog, btw!

Grammar Party

Lesson: learning the difference between empathy and sympathy

empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner

sympathy: an affinity, association, or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other

In essence, empathy means you understand the feelings of another person. Sympathy means that you can’t understand exactly how another person feels, but you still feel sorry for their situation.

Let’s look at some examples to help clarify the difference.

situation: Your friend is sad because her pet rat ran away last night.

empathy example: I empathize with you. My pet rat ran away three months ago.
sympathy example: I’m sorry that happened, and I can sympathize with you, but I…

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