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  1. Junior Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • French
      • Home Country:
      • France
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Aug 2014
    • Posts: 75

    Is "sympathetic" correctly used in the sentence?

    Not long ago, I had a conversation with a group of my friends in my home. We shared any stories with one another about any topics.

    One of my friends said this to us.

    His cousin has a pitiful life. In his childhood, he lost both of his parents in an accident and became an orphan. In secondary school, he was often bullied by his classmates. Now, he is married. Unfortunately, his wife wants to divorce him. So, he has a sympathetic background which makes people sad.

    May I ask whether "sympathetic" fits the last sentence?

    It sounds okay to me because his personal background deserves people's sympathy.

    Could someone please explain this? Thanks.

  2. Moderator
    Retired English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 25,704

    Re: Is "sympathetic" correctly used in the sentence?

    No — a background can't be sympathetic. People are sympathetic.

    He has a tragic background.

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