Difference Between Empathy and Compassion

Main Difference – Empathy vs Compassion

Empathy and compassion are two feelings that are invoked when we see the suffering and misfortune of another. Although empathy and compassion are similar feelings, there is a distinct difference between them. Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s feelings and situation whereas compassion is a feeling of sympathy, pity, and concern for the misfortune and suffering of others. This is the main difference between empathy and compassion.

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What is Empathy

Empathy can be defined as the ability to identify and understand another person’s feelings. So when a person says he feels empathy for someone, it means that he understands what the other person is feeling.

This ability to understand another person’s situation can come from having a similar experience. For example, you might feel empathy for a poor student because you too started from a very poor background. But empathy is not only felt by those who have shared or experienced similar situations and problems. If you can put yourself in the shoes of another, you can feel empathy for that person. When you imagine yourself in another person’s situation, you can feel his or her feelings and situation better. The following sentences will help to understand the meaning and usage of empathy more clearly.

I’m sure he will empathize with you; he was in the same situation couple of years ago.

Empathy and understanding can make your relationship strong.

There is a frightening lack of empathy of the condition of the elders.

I felt great empathy for the victim’s family.

What is Compassion

Compassion is a feeling of sympathy, pity, and concern for the misfortune and suffering of others. This is when your heart moves for another’s situation. This situation can be poverty, unhappiness, violence, disability, disease, death, etc. When you see such misfortune, you want to help that person to get away from that terrible situation.

The following examples will help you understand the meaning and usage of this noun better.

He treated every living being with compassion.

We should treat the victims of war with more compassion.

I felt compassion for the poor child, but there was nothing I could do.

The doctor showed neither compassion nor pity for the poor patient.

Difference Between Empathy and Compassion

Difference Between Empathy and Compassion


Empathy is the ability to identify and understand another person’s feelings.

Compassion is a feeling of sympathy, pity, and concern for the misfortune and suffering of others.


Empathy evokes understanding.

Compassion evokes feelings like pity, sympathy, and concern.


Empathy implies that you understand the other person’s situation.

Compassion does not imply that you understand the other person’s situation.


Empathy doesn’t necessarily mean that you are motivated to help a person.

Compassion implies that you are motivated to help that person.

Image Courtesy:

“Compassion Connect Clinic 439″ by Parker Knight  via

“Empathy” (Public Domain) via Pixbay

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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