Difference Between Sympathy and Pity

Sympathy vs Pity

Sympathy, empathy, compassion, pity, etc. are some English words that have similar meanings. A lot many people remain confused between sympathy and pity, often using one when they mean the other. You take pity on the condition of someone as you feel sorry for him, but you also sympathize with him making it difficult for you to decide on the right word you feel for him. This article takes a closer look at sympathy and pity to highlight their differences and to enable you to use the right word in a particular context.


Sympathy is a very common human emotion that one feels for another human being. This is an emotion that lets an individual know that you are there with him and share his feelings. For example, if someone is going through bad times, you can sympathize with him and let him know how you understand his grief, sorrow, or distress. When someone passes away and you are there with the family of the deceased, you offer your sympathies to let them know that you are there in their time of grief and sorrow.


Pity is a word that denotes feelings of sorrow for others, especially when they are in trouble of going through distress or pain. Pity has a slightly negative connotation as it can refer to feelings of condescension. If you see a disabled person, you are filled with pity, and you start to feel sorry for him. There are also times when you are moved by the misfortune of an individual and start to pity him for his bad condition.

What is the difference between Sympathy and Pity?

• You feel bad or sorry when you pity someone while these feelings may be absent in sympathy.

• Sympathy can mean relating with someone when he is passing through a difficult phase or time. It is letting him know that you share his sorrow or distress.

• Pity can have slightly negative connotations, whereas sympathy is sharing of feelings.

• You are filled with pity when you see a disabled person, but you offer your sympathies when you visit a family that has suffered from a death or loss of someone close.

• In pity, you feel sorry but, in sympathy, you understand his feelings.