Sympathy vs Empathy: Difference between Them

The words “sympathy” and “empathy” are two different terms that differ both in spelling and context. “Sympathy” is a noun that pertains to an emotion or feeling of pity towards another person or group of people.“Empathy” is a word that describes a more deep emotion. “Empathy” is a noun that pertains to the capacity of humans to comprehend someone’s situation. The word “empathy” is commonly linked to the phrase “putting one’s foot in someone’s shoe”, mainly because a person who is empathetic knows and understands someone’s current situation. “Sympathy” and “empathy” are usually used in a situation where other people are experiencing misfortune or unfavorable circumstances.

The differences and comparisons between “sympathy” and “empathy” are listed below.

  • “Sympathy” is used as a noun.
  • “Sympathy” is used to describe a situation.
  • “Sympathy” is used when one person shares the feelings of another.
  • “Sympathy” is used to describe an emotion.
  • “Sympathy” is used to describe an agreement. 
  • “Empathy” is used to describe emotion.
  • “Empathy” is used as a noun.
  • “Empathy” is used to describe feelings.
  • “Empathy” is used to describe passion.
  • “Empathy” is used to describe a situation.

The depth of emotion and context must be considered in deciding whether to use the word “sympathy” or empathy. The term “Sympathy” is used when someone shares an emotion with a person that is experiencing an unfortunate event. The word “sympathy” is a more shallow feeling and lacks a complete understanding of the situation. On the other hand, “empathy” is a deeper concept that both share feelings and provide an understanding of certain circumstances. “Empathy” is a word usually used by people who have experienced the same undesirable happening before in their lives. 

Some examples of the word “sympathy” include “Please accept my sincere sympathy in the loss of your father.” “The president has sent a message of sympathy to the relatives of the dead soldiers.” The usage of “sympathy” in the sentences is correct, mainly because it perfectly suits the context. The sentence is about a person showing a feeling of pity toward someone who lost a father and relatives of the dead soldiers. It is appropriate to use “sympathy” as a word to describe a thoughtful message to the people who lost their loved ones. Meanwhile, some examples of the word “empathy” are “She felt great empathy with the homeless.” “The kid felt empathy towards her friend who just lost his dog because her dog also died last year.” The usage of “empathy” is grammatically correct in the sentence since it was used as a noun to discuss the understanding of a person towards homeless people and a friend who just lost their dog. 

The difference between “sympathy” and “empathy” must be known to write better content and communicate in a healthier way. The precision of contexts is highly critical in content writing and marketing, especially since each piece of information is dependent on every keyword. Content writing and marketing demand an accurate description and definition. Articles and marketing that have not been correctly written cause misinterpretation and learning deficiency among readers. Hence, knowing the difference between “sympathy” and “empathy” is highly significant to relay the information to the readers and users clearly and appropriately. 

What does “Sympathy” Mean?

The word “sympathy” is a noun that means “the act or feeling of sorrow or pity towards other people.” “Sympathy” is commonly used in contexts, namely a conversation or discussion about unfortunate incidents or happenings. “Sympathy” is a word derived from the Greek word “sym” that is associated with the meaning “together” and “pathos” which implies an emotion or feeling, usually sadness. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “sympathy” as “feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune” and “the desire to be sorry for somebody.” “Sympathy” was first used in the English language during the 16th century. “Sympathy” is a very common English word. It is common in textbooks, novels, short stories, and even in casual conversations and discussions. The word “sympathy” is highly significant, mainly because it is a word that provides comfort to someone that is experiencing undesirable circumstances. 

What are the Sentence Examples with “Sympathy”?

The sentence examples with the word “Sympathy” are listed below. 

  • “John Stevenson belonged to a generation in which the most remarkable feature was the growth of sympathy.” The word “sympathy” was used in the sentence to discuss the main characteristic of the person’s generation. 
  • I realize in most ways John isn’t deserving of too much sympathy, but I still think of her as a tragic figure. The sentence example used “sympathy” as a noun that defines the feeling that is being stated in the sentence.
  • Those attending a conference abroad tend to be the envy of their colleagues so complaints about such trials and tribulations elicit little sympathy. “Sympathy” was used in the sentence as a noun that expresses the small amount of expression given due to a particular situation.
  • I have the utmost sympathy for staff employed by British Waterways facing a reorganization. The sentence included the word “sympathy” to express the feeling that the person wants to share with someone for their unfortunate experience. 
  • He was anxiously sensitive about the opinion of others, eager for their sympathy and regard, and, in general, impressionable to their influence. The term “sympathy” is placed in the sentence as a noun that discusses an emotion that someone wants to earn from people. 

When to Use the word “Sympathy” in a Sentence?

The term “sympathy” is a noun used to define shared feelings with another from one’s own point of view, particularly an event. The term “sympathy” is used as a formal expression in the form of sharing feelings or thinking. The synonym for “sympathy” are “condolence, concern, and support.” It must be used in the context that tackles someone’s undesirable experience. The word “sympathy” is to offer compassion and concern as a source of available support. Do not use “sympathy” in a situation that has the potential to be offensive such as “I know that you just feel sympathy towards her because you need something from her.” The word “sympathy” is a further alternative to the phrase “accept my condolences” which is an expression of sympathy that is grammatically corrected. “Sympathy” is defined as understanding and caring for someone else’s suffering “accept” is defined as regard favorably or with approval. 

How to use “sympathy” and “empathy” in the same sentence? The topic must be about expressing a feeling of pity and understanding to use “sympathy” and “empathy in the same sentence. The words “empathy” and “sympathy” vary in meaning and are allowed to be used in the same sentence since they do not cause redundancy. However, they are restricted to be used in succession with each other as it is grammatically incorrect. An example of “sympathy” and “empathy” in the same sentence is, “The friends showed sympathy to her, but the relatives gave empathy when she lost her mother.” Another example is, “The ability of humans to provide sympathy and empathy to their peers makes them unique compared to other living organisms.” 

What are the Synonyms of “Sympathy”?

The synonyms of the word “sympathy” are “compassion”, “condolences”, and “pity.” The word “compassion” means “an act of concern towards other people who are in a bad state.” Some examples of “compassion” in a sentence are, “Healthcare professionals may seem emotionless, but they have compassion (sympathy) towards their patients.” “The politicians of their country only express their compassion (sympathy) during the elections.” “Condolences” is an English term that means, “a feeling of pity shown to people who lost their loved ones.” An example of “condolences” in a sentence is, “My classmates sent their deepest condolences (sympathy) to our professor because he lost his daughter.” Another example is, “They offer their condolences (sympathy) to the families who lost their loved ones because of the flood.” The word “Pity” means, “the state of sadness and compassion caused by the suffering and troubles of other people.” Some examples of “pity” in sentences include, “After all the misfortunes that happened in her life, she deserves all the pity (sympathy) she receives from her family right now.” “The landlady did not ask the tenant to pay the rent, but she showed pity (sympathy) instead because the tenant was robbed.”

What are the Antonyms of “Sympathy”?

The antonyms of “sympathy” include “insensitivity” and “unconcern.” The term “insensitivity” means “lacks a feeling for others.” An example of “insensitivity” in a sentence is, “Despite the tragic events that happened this year, there are still people whose insensitivity never melted.” On the other hand, “unconcern” is an English word that means, “lack of care for others.” One example of “unconcern” in a sentence is, “I guess the mother does not love her children because she’s unconcern with them.”

How to spell “Sympathy”?

The spelling of the word “sympathy” is “S-Y-M-P-A-T-H-Y.” It starts with the letter “s” and ends with the letter “y.” “Sympathy” contains eight letters in total and only has one vowel which is the letter “a.” The most common misspelled version of “sympathy” is “simpathy.” The difference between “sympathy” and “simpathy” is the letter “i” after the first letter which makes it automatically incorrect. The misspelled version does not have any meaning associated with it. 

What are the prepositions and helper words for Sympathy?

The preposition and helper words for sympathy are “for”, “in”, “from”, and “with.” The preposition “for” is used to indicate a purpose in a sentence. For instance, “She just posted her apology video for sympathy.” On the other hand, “in” is a preposition that means “describing the circumstance of being enclosed or surrounded by a particular thing.” An example of “in” as a preposition of “sympathy” is “I’ve received too much sympathy in the last few weeks.” Furthermore, “of” is another preposition that is followed by a noun describing the subject of the verb underlying the first noun. For example, in the sentence, “Tony did not respond, but looked cordially into the Merchant’s eyes which the feeling of sympathy was pleasing to her.” Moreover, the preposition “from” implies the source of “sympathy” is, “The children received so much sympathy from the netizens after they lost their parents from the accident last night.” “With” is a preposition that means “accompanied” by.” One example of “with” and “sympathy” in a sentence is, “The owner of a deceased dog did not just receive donations, but also a letter with sympathy messages.”

What does “Empathy” Mean?

The word “empathy” is a noun that describes an emotional understanding of other people’s situations. It is mostly used in sentences that discuss unfavorable and unhappy situations. The term “empathy” originated from the Ancient Greek word empathia where “em” means “in” and “pathia” or “pathos” means “feeling.” “empathy” was first used in the English language in 1909 by Edward Bradford during the translation of the word from the German language. According to the Oxford Dictionary, “empathy” means “the ability to visualize and understand the thoughts, perspectives, and emotions of another person.” The word “empathy” is a common English that is used to imagine what it is like to be in a person’s situation. The importance of using proper “empathy” is to understand the situation to deliver the correct act of emotion and thoughts.

What are the Sentence Examples with “Empathy”?

The sentence examples with “empathy” are listed below.

  • “It is important to be a good listener and show empathy for the individual’s situation.” “Empathy” was used here as a noun that describes an emotion of understanding that must be shown to a person suffering from an undesirable phase of their life. 
  • “YouTube’s contribution to world peace is not simply to add empathy to current events, although that would be enough.” The word “empathy” was placed in the sentence for the purpose of discussing a feeling expressed by the subject that is already sufficient for the current happenings that are probably tragic. 
  • “Showing compassion and expressing empathy shows how much you care about the person you are with and keeps that love alive.” The example utilized “empathy” as one of the main characteristics of loving someone.
  • “This is an age where children begin to exhibit both the responsibility and empathy needed to take care of another living being.” The word “empathy” in the sentence is a key element of compassion. 
  • “The psychic ability of empathy is often misunderstood.” The “empathy” in the sentence is treated as both a noun and a subject. 

When to Use the Word “Empathy” in a sentence?

The word “empathy” must be used in sentences that need to express a feeling of pity and understanding to others. “Empathy” is a word that is used in deeper contexts of sharing an emotion with peers, especially if one has encountered the same misfortune. It is frequently seen in conversations between family members, lovers, and closest friends. A synonym of “empathy” is “affinity.” “Empathy” must not be used in sentences that talk about celebrations and birthdays as it is highly irrelevant and disrespectful. 

What are the Synonyms of “Empathy”?

The synonyms of “empathy” are “affinity” and “rapport.” “Affinity” is a term that means, “a self-generated or natural liking or understanding for a person or an object.” Some examples of “affinity” in a sentence include, “She never felt any affinity (empathy) with the other kids in his hometown.” “Thomas shared affinity (empathy) with his cousin as he is suffering from depression.” On the other hand, “rapport” means, “a close and harmonious connection with peers and communities that are concerned to comprehend each other’s emotions or thoughts and interact well.” An example of the word “rapport” in a sentence is, “Maynard has a strong rapport (empathy) with children because he had a traumatic experience together with his younger sibling before.” Another example is, “Mothers have a deep rapport (empathy) with their kids because they are the ones who take care of them since day one.” 

What are the Antonyms of “Empathy”?

The antonyms of “sympathy” are “hatred”, “cruelty,” “meanness,” “hostility.” The antonym “hatred” is a noun that means “intense dislike over a particular person or thing.” On the other hand, the word “meanness” is associated with the meaning, “doing something to someone that is not respectful and causes them to be hurt.” Whereas “hostility” is a term used to describe an act that is unfriendly or antagonistic towards someone. These words oppose the word “Sympathy” but they must not be used interchangeably because they have different meanings.

How to Spell “Empathy”?

The spelling of the word “empathy” is “E-M-P-A-T-H-Y.” The correct spelling has seven letters with two vowels including “e” and “a.” A common misspelled version of “empathy” is “impathy” which is spelled as “I-M-P-A-T-H-Y.” The difference between “empathy” and “impathy” is seen in the first letter because they are using two different vowels. “Impathy” has no associated meaning and is not recognized by any reliable word sources. 

What are the prepositions and helper words for Empathy?

The prepositions and helper words for “empathy” are “for”, “in”, “with”, and “from.” The preposition “for” is used to emphasize the purpose of “empathy” in a sentence. For example, “The dogs showed empathy for their owner whenever she’s having breakdowns due to her work.” The word “in” is a preposition of “empathy” that means, “to exhibit a state or condition.” An example of “empathy” and “in” within a sentence is, “Despite the changes he went through the years, I can still see empathy in him.” Meanwhile, “with” accompanies “empathy” in the sentences. For instance, “We cannot judge a person whether he is good or bad when his actions are done with empathy.” “From” is used to identify the source of a subject such as “empathy.” One example of “from” and “empathy” in a sentence is, “Princess Diana received millions of empathy from the people who loved her.”

Comparison between “Sympathy” and “Empathy”

The table below shows the comparison between “sympathy” and “empathy.”

WordDefinitionContextFormsExample Sentences
Sympathy“Sympathy” is the common expression of pity or sorrow.“Sympathy” is an act of sharing the feelings of another.Noun“Perhaps we feel some sympathy with the youngest daughter.”

“Dogs are even capable of giving sympathy to their owners as long as they are deeply connected with.”
Empathy“Empathy” is the ability to sense another person’s emotion.“Empathy” is used to see things from one’s point of view.Noun“The writer invites us to feel empathy with the tragic characters in his novel.”

“I know that you felt deep empathy towards the victims of the fire because you had experienced it too when you are younger.”

​Why is “Sympathy” and “Empathy” misused interchangeably in English?

The words “sympathy” and “empathy” are misused interchangeably because they are misinterpreted to have a similar context. Some users of “sympathy” and “empathy” think that these two words have the same meaning, which leads to misuse. Non-native English speakers and beginners sometimes do not know the distinction between “sympathy” and “empathy.” Normally, people use “sympathy” and “empathy” to express their emotions for someone who is not having a good experience. However, they misuse “sympathy” and “empathy” because of the lack of knowledge, thinking that “sympathy” and “empathy” are just two words that imply the same thought when in fact they are completely different. 

Are “Sympathy” and “Empathy” the most commonly misused English words?

No, the terms “sympathy” and “empathy” are not included in the list of the most commonly misused English words. The words “sympathy” and “empathy” are two varying forms that are spelled differently and bear distinct meanings. The word “sympathy” is used to describe the full understanding of someone in need. On the other hand, the word “empathy” is used to describe “feeling sorry” for someone, like putting oneself in another’s shoes. There must be no instances where the word “sympathy” is used instead of “empathy.” English users misuse the words “sympathy” and “empathy” in their sentences in some cases, mainly due to a lack of further knowledge. However, professional writers are highly skilled and knowledgeable in using the English language and do not commit mistakes in using “sympathy” and “empathy.”

What are the other similar Misused Word Pairs like “Empathy” and “Sympathy” in English?

Listed below are other word pairs that are misused, like “empathy” and “sympathy.”

  • “Lose” and “Loose”: The terms “loose” and “lose” are similar to the misused word pairs like “empathy” and “sympathy,” mainly because of their difference regarding usage, spelling, pronunciation, and meaning. “Lose” is a verb that means “to be deprived of or cease to obtain something, while “Loose” is an adjective that means “not firmly or tightly fixed in place; detached or able to be detached.” “Loose” and “lose” differ in the letter “o.” On the other hand, “empathy” and “sympathy” has a major distinction with each other regarding their meaning, spelling of the first syllable and its pronunciation. Furthermore, the words “loose,” “lose,” have almost the same pronunciations which are confusing. The word “lose” is pronounced with a ‘z’ sound, while the word “loose” is pronounced with an ‘s’ sound. Additionally, the terms “loose” and “lose” have varying meanings. “Loose” means “not having a tight or firm grip of something, while “lose” means “not being able to possess something.”
  • “Advice” and “Advise”: The words “Advice” and “advise” are similar to the misused word pairs like “empathy” and “sympathy,” mainly because of their usage differences. “Advice” is a noun that refers to words containing guidance and recommendations regarding a particular decision or action. Meanwhile, “advise” is a verb that pertains to the act of giving suggestions and recommendations. The words  “advice” and “advise” have a similar meanings, and the spellings only differ in the letter “c” and “s.” The word “advise” is pronounced with an ‘s’ sound, while the word “advise” is pronounced” with a “z” sound.
  • “Affect” and “Effect”: The words “affect” and “effect” are similar to the misused word pairs like “empathy” and “sympathy,” mainly because of their usage differences. “Affect” is a verb that means “have an effect on; make a difference to.” Whereas, “effect” is a noun associated with the meaning “a change that is a consequence or a result of events.” Usually, the difference in the words “affect” and “effect” is grammatical. They are used about the outcome or consequences of a particular situation.
  • “Compliment” and “Complement”: The words “compliment” and “complement” are similar to the misused word pairs like “empathy” and “sympathy,” mainly because they are varying in terms of usage. “Compliment” is a word that pertains to “a respectful expression of praise, or admiration.” Whereas, “complement” is a word used to describe something that is bound to or near perfection. The word “compliment” is a verb, while “complement” is a noun. These words are used about saying something nice about someone.

How do Content Writers use “Sympathy” and “Empathy” in their articles?

Content writers use “sympathy” and “empathy” in their articles to define emotion and feelings. The sentences that require a formal expression and correct thought are accompanied by either “sympathy” or “empathy.” The word “sympathy” is for context that only shows a surface-level emotion. Whereas “empathy” is used for a particular sentence that combines both emotion and intellectual understanding. The difference between these words must be known because they result in confusion and communication problems with the readers when used mistakenly in content writing

Do Content Writers use “Sympathy” and “Empathy” in the wrong way?

No, content writers do not use the words “sympathy” and “empathy” in the wrong way. Content writers, especially the skilled ones, are knowledgeable regarding the usage of words correctly and appropriately in their written sentences. It is highly required for every content writer to know and distinguish the differences between words such as “empathy” and “sympathy” in terms of spelling and meanings. Content writers write their articles with great precision and quality to ensure that there are no errors. The way that content writers do to prevent committing mistakes is by proofreading their articles before publishing them. 

Do Misused Words such as “Empathy” and “Sympathy” Empathy SEO and UX?

Yes, misused words such as “empathy” and “sympathy” affect SEO and UX. The search engine’s basis for the ranking of content depends on the correct construction of sentences. Content writers are tasked to write their articles properly to achieve Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, if the articles contain misused words, their SEO is negatively influenced. On the other hand, badly written contents make the User Experience (UX) poor as they do not satisfy the needs of the readers which results in a bad impression. 

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