Empathy vs. Sympathy

the words "empathy vs. sympathy" on a pink background

What’s the difference between empathy and sympathy? These two words are often confused, and it’s totally understandable. On the surface, they have very similar meanings. But since empathy and sympathy do mean different things, let’s dig into what those meanings are and when you should use each one.

What does sympathy mean?
Way back in the mid-1500s, sympathy meant (according to dictionary.com) “agreement or harmony in qualities between things or people.”

Sympathy’s meaning has evolved since then, and now we use it to describe feelings of pity or sorrow for people who have experienced or are experiencing misfortune.

Example: Suzie got an A on the test, but she felt sympathy for Jane, who got an F.

What does empathy mean?
Empathy entered the English lexicon in the 1800s primarily as a psychological term to describe the idea that a person could project their feelings onto an object.

Like sympathy, empathy’s meaning has also evolved over the centuries. These days, empathy is used to describe a person’s ability to imagine themselves in another’s situation and understand what that person is thinking or feeling.

Example: Suzie had empathy for Jane because they both got an F on the test.

What’s the difference?
Basically, sympathy means that you feel sorry for someone, while empathy means that you are placing yourself in another person’s shoes, feeling as they feel.

Empathy often begets sympathy, and feeling sympathy often depends on a person’s capacity for empathy. But it’s also possible to be empathetic towards someone and not feel sympathy for them, or feel sympathetic towards them but not empathetic.

Quiz
Test your skills with this quiz. Fill in the blank with either empathize or sympathize. The answers are at the bottom.

  1. I’m sorry that shark bit your hand off. I _______ with you, even though I still have both of my hands.
    2. That’s terrible that a seagull pooped on you. I can _______ because a seagull pooped on me last week.
    3. No way—an elephant stepped on your banjo? I totally _______ with you because an elephant also broke my banjo.
    4. Your dog has been howling for five days straight? I _______ with you,  but that’s why I’ll never own a dog.

1. sympathize 2. empathize 3. empathize 4. sympathize

This post was written by Erin Servais and Maud Grauer of Dot and Dash, an author-services company focusing on women authors.

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Common Christmas Misspellings

two elves sitting together and the words Common Christmas Misspellings

Don’t mess with the elf on the shelf. Learn how to spell these words.

Today I’m writing about some confusing Christmas words and common Christmas misspellings so you can write your holiday cards and family newsletters with peace of mind (and peace on earth).

Christmastime is one word.

Christmassy can take one S or two.

Ho ho ho! has one exclamation point after the last ho.

Santa Claus has no E at the end.

Noel has no dots over the E, unless you want to spell it the French way.

Xmas does not have a hyphen after the X.

Sugarplum is one word.

Mistletoe has a T in the middle that we don’t pronounce (because English).

Gingerbread is one word.

Eggnog is also one word.

Bough is spelled this way, not bow, regardless if you deck the halls with boughs of holly.

These are all according to Merriam-Webster.

And if you want to add some international flair to your season’s greetings, here is how to say “Merry Christmas” in other languages:

Danish: Glædelig Jul

French: Joyeux Noël

German: Fröhliche Weihnachten

Italian: Buon Natale

Spanish: Feliz Navidad

Swedish: God Jul

Erin Servais is a book editor, author coach, and founder of Dot and Dash, an author-services company. To see how she can help you with your writing project, email her at Erin@dotanddashllc.com.

 
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Is it whose or who’s?

image of owl and the words whose or who's

Whooo will know the difference between “whose” and “who’s” after reading this post? You will!

The rules of when to use whose and when to use who’s are simple, but they can be difficult to remember because they seem to violate how apostrophes usually work. Don’t worry—we’ll teach you a trick to remember the difference whose and who’s in this post.

While words ending with an apostrophe and an S (i.e., the man’s car) are usually possessive, in the case of whose vs. who’s, whose is actually the possessive form.

Whose is a possessive adjective, which means it describes who owns something.

Who’s is a contraction of either who is or who has.

How to remember the difference
A good way to tell whether you should use whose or who’s is to substitute who is or who has in their place. If the sentence makes sense with this substitution, then you should use who’s. If it doesn’t, then you should go with whose. Here are some examples:

math gif.gif

Whoa. Math.

  • “Who’s the best at math?”

This sentence uses who’s because you can substitute who is. “Who is the best at math?” still makes sense.

  • “Whose math homework is this?”

This sentence uses whose because it doesn’t make sense when you substitute who is and get “Who is math homework is this?” Whose, in this case, is asking who the math homework belongs to.

Whose vs. who’s seems complicated, but once you know the rules, it’s easy to tell when to use which. Who’s got the power to tell the difference between whose and who’s? You do!

 

This post was written by Maud Grauer. She is a content creator and book editor for Dot and Dash. You can read more of her writing on the Dot and Dash blog: www.dotanddashllc.com/blog

You can email Maud at Maud@dotanddashllc.com.

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Peek, peak, and pique

image of a keyhole and the word

Peek through a keyhole; peak of a mountain; pique someone’s interest;

The words peek, peak, and pique often get confused. It’s easy to see why. For one, they’re homonyms, which means they sound alike but have different meanings. They also all can be both nouns and verbs.

To help you remember the differences between peek, peak, and pique, let’s look at their definitions and some examples. Then you can test your understanding with a quiz at the end of the post.

peek (noun) means a glance
Example: One peek at the gift table and Virginia knew which one was from her grandma.

peek (verb) means 1) to glance at something; or 2) to look out through a hiding place (such as a crack).
Examples: Virginia peeked quickly at the papers on her rival’s desk.
I discovered Virginia peeking through the crack of the door.

peak (noun) means 1) the point at the top of a hill or mountain; or 2) the highest level
Examples: It took Virginia four days to climb to the peak of the mountain.
Virginia thought her vacation had reached its peak, but then she saw a mountain lion do the foxtrot.

peak (verb) means to reach a maximum (of capacity, value, or activity)
Example: Virginia felt her life peaked when she won her eighth-grade spelling bee.

 

 

pique (noun) means resentment, a wound of pride
Example: Virginia felt pique when her best friend got a better grade than her.

pique (verb) means to excite in interest or curiosity
Example: When Virginia’s friend brought up the subject of physics, her interest piqued.

Quiz
Test your skills with this quiz. Fill in the blank with either peek, peak, or pique.

  1. Virginia reached the _______ of her high school career when she beat her math teacher at chess.
  2. Virginia had a _______ at the test before it was time to start.
  3.  “Let me _______ your curiosity,” Virgnia said as she pulled a magic box from her purse.
  4.  Virginia painted the _______ of the mountain for her art class.
  5.  Virginia _______ed, in terms of accomplishments, when she won the first prize in debate class.
  6. Virginia’s _______ was in full force when she saw her friend take the stage after her.
  7. Virginia hid behind a big rock, and then she _______ed around it.
  8. From her _______ing, Virginia knew the secret her brother hid in his closet.

1. peak (noun) 2. peek (noun) 3. pique (verb) 4. peak (noun) 5. peak (verb) 6. pique (noun) 7. peek (verb) 8. peek (noun)

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Bald-Faced, Bold-Faced, or Barefaced Lie?

Woman's mouth and the text: Lies! Lies! Lies!

What do you call a major lie, one told with total disregard for anyone who might be affected by it? You’ve got a few options. You could call it a barefaced lie, a bald-faced lie, or a bold-faced lie. All of these are technically correct and mean basically the same thing, but bald-faced is, according to Merriam-Webster, “the preferred term in published, edited text.”

Barefaced has been used to describe lies and liars since the 19th century. Bald-faced, meanwhile, emerged in the mid-20th century. Both terms mean an open, unconcealed lie told with no concern for the truth and with an additional implication of rudeness.

The term bold-faced has been around since the 16th century, but it started to be used in this context around the end of the 20th century. It’s possible that the emergence of bold-faced as a modifier for lies and liars corresponds to the increase in the use of bold-faced text during this period.

Barefaced, bald-faced, and bold-faced are all grammatically correct ways to describe lies. Most people don’t use barefaced anymore, and of the remaining two options, the preferred, professional term is bald-faced. Now that’s the truth!

 

This post was written by Maud Grauer. She is a content creator for Dot and Dash. You can read more of her writing on the Dot and Dash blog: www.dotanddashllc.com/blog

You can email Maud at Maud@dotanddashllc.com.

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