Confusing Words

Empathy Vs Sympathy

While often used interchangeably, empathy vs sympathy is certainly a very confusing matter. Furthermore, empathy refers to the ability to understand the feelings of other people. In contrast, sympathy means the ability to actually participate in the feelings of others. Moreover, empathy takes place when people project their feelings onto another object or a work of art. On the other hand, the use of sympathy takes place more in relation to tastes, views, and opinions. For example, one can have sympathy for a social or political cause. According to the author Brene Brown; sympathy drives disconnection, while empathy fuels connection. Simply speaking, emotion is the main criterion when it comes to empathy vs sympathy vs compassion.

Let us make empathy vs sympathy understanding more clear. Empathy means to experience the feelings of someone else. In contrast, sympathy meaning pertains to understanding the suffering of someone else.

empathy vs sympathy

Difference between Empathy and Sympathy

Some individuals think that there is no difference between empathy and sympathy. Therefore, such individuals use the two words in an interchangeable manner. However, this is an obvious fallacy because when one goes into details, it would be found that both words are poles apart from each other.

Is it empathy or sympathy? People often face a huge amount of confusion regarding this question of empathy vs sympathy. One thing everyone must understand is that sympathy is a much older word than empathy.

Empathy is a word that has made a recent entry in the English language. In contrast, people have been using the word sympathy for a period of almost 3 centuries before the word empathy. Most noteworthy, a sort of similarity comes for the words sympathy vs sympathy as both contain –pathy, as they come from the same Greek root word pathos.

In spite of the similarity of Greek origin, both words are very far from becoming synonyms. Sympathy is a word we use to describe the way we share the feelings of others. In contrast, empathy takes place when people share and understand the feelings of others.

Sympathy may refer to a sense of harmony that develops between individuals of similar opinions and tastes. Empathy on the other makes use of one’s imagination to ascribe attitudes or feelings to an object. Furthermore, some examples of such objects can be natural object or painting or some other object having emotional value.

When/ How to Use Empathy

One must use the word empathy in a broader way that when its introduction first took place. Many individuals use the word now to show the capacity to imagine oneself in a particular situation. Therefore, by using the word empathy, individuals show their ideas, opinions, or emotions to another person.

A correct example of the word empathy is- “Peter has empathy for the poor people as he himself was once poor.” In contrast, incorrect use of the word empathy is- I have empathy towards the animals for the cruelty they face. Most noteworthy, the second example is an incorrect use of empathy because it is impossible to imagine oneself in the place of an animal.

When/How to Use Sympathy

The word sympathy must be used in a manner such that it conveys pity, feelings of sorrow, or commiseration. Furthermore, one can witness this sense in the greetings cards that have the label of sympathy. Moreover, one must use this word when feeling bad for some people, even though the individual may not know what it is to be like in their shoes.

A good example of the word sympathy is- “Peter has a lot of sympathy towards the earthquake victims.” In contrast, the wrong use of the word sympathy is- “Peter has sympathy towards his friend when he won a lottery.” This is because; the association of the word sympathy is always with feelings of pity or sorrow, not with feelings of happiness.

Examples of Empathy-Using Empathy in a Sentence

To illustrate the matter of empathy vs sympathy more clearly, let us go through some examples. Below are the various examples of empathy.

Example 1: Due to his childhood tragedy, Mathew had empathy with victims of child abuse. The example here shows the reason for Mathew’s empathy.

Example 2: It was easy for Mark to have empathy towards cancer patients considering his own was a victim of this disease.

Example 3: Being a refugee himself, the president allowed the immigrants into the country, thereby demonstrating his empathy for migrant communities.

Examples of Sympathy-Using Sympathy in a Sentence

Let us check out some examples of sympathy below to better understand the words empathy vs sympathy.

Example 1: Since my childhood, I always had sympathy for the animals.

Examples 2: Referees must be of a different country in comparison to those playing in the match, so as to avoid the possibility of showing sympathy.

Example 3: The Minister was against corporations and had sympathy for the environmental cause.

Share with friends

Customize your course in 30 seconds

Which class are you in?
Get ready for all-new Live Classes!
Now learn Live with India's best teachers. Join courses with the best schedule and enjoy fun and interactive classes.
Ashhar Firdausi
IIT Roorkee
Dr. Nazma Shaik
Gaurav Tiwari
Get Started

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Download the App

Watch lectures, practise questions and take tests on the go.

Customize your course in 30 seconds

No thanks.