When I sympathize I'm sorry you're hurting. When I empathize I feel your pain, possibly because I've been there.

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Sympathy ("to feel with")often expresses understanding of another's unhappiness or suffering, especially when it is grief. Sympathy can also refer to being aware of other (positive) emotions as well. In a broader sense, sympathy is a social affinity in which one person stands with another person, closely understanding his or her feelings. Also known as empathic concern, it is the feeling of compassion or concern for another, the wish to see them better off or happier.<br />
Empathy ("in feeling" or to feel as if within the feelings of the other) is a more recent word, with nuances of meaning that shift a fair bit, especially among humanistic psychologists. Sympathy was thought to have gathered a connotation of pity, so empathy was coined to suggest a way of resonating in or with the feelings of the other with greater accuracy, seeing from the other's point of view.

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Sympathy: I see you hurting and it breaks my heart.<br />
Empathy: I know the pain you feel (from personal experience) and it breaks my heart.

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mojodojo's answer feels right to me - i don't know the dictionary definition but empathy seems more subjective and less intellectual than sympathy

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Sympathy is caring. Empathy is caring and understanding because you've been there.

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Empathy is a much deeper sense of emotion and a sense that you can feel another's feelings and state of being along with feeling sympathetic to their issue. Sympathy is a feeling of understanding the issue and wanting to help the one in need.

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Empathy is sympathy of emotions. Sympathy just means two things that are the same in some aspect, or parallel.

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