Nice vs. sympatic

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WRONG: My boss is a very sympatic person.
RIGHT: My boss is a very nice person.

This week’s Czenglish mistake is one of the most common. It concerns the Czech word ‘sympatický’. This word is translated into a number of languages – Italian and Turkish for example. But not English. We do not use this word. Instead, we use the word ‘likeable’ or more commonly, ‘nice’.


So, we’d say, „My boss is a very nice person.“


We do, however, use the word ‘sympathetic’ which has a different meaning. This word is used to describe someone who can show a feeling of understanding to others. It is like empathetic but is often connected with bad news. You can be empathetic when someone talks about a situation you have been in before, but you are sympathetic when you share their sadness about something. For example:


„My friend was very sympathetic when my dog died. She bought me a little gift to cheer me up.“