I'm trying to distinguish the differences between English words that express emotional or psychological sensitivity, in particular "pity", "compassion", "sympathy", "empathy", "pathetic", and "pitiful". I'd appreciate some help associating those English words with their proper German equivalents (wie Mitleid, Mitgefühl, usw.).
In principle these words are very similar. The words are either synonyms or they define each other. That leads to the fact that the translation is intersecting. Which word you actually choose depends on the context.
I take the explanation from OALD.
pity: a feeling of sympathy and sadness caused by the suffering and troubles of others
compassion: a strong feeling of sympathy for people who are suffering and a desire to help them
sympathy: the feeling of being sorry for somebody; showing that you understand and care about somebody's problems
Beileid, Anteilnahme, Verständnis, auch Mitleid und Mitgefühl möglich
sympathy: friendship and understanding between people who have similar opinions or interests
empathy: the ability to understand another person's feelings, experience, etc
pathetic: making you feel pity or sadness
pitiful: deserving pity or causing you to feel pity
Some of this words, e.g. pity, is often translated as bedauerlich or schade like in That is a pity.
to feel sorry also means Mitleid empfinden