辛い vs. 苦しい: Are You Sure About That Word Usage?
What is the difference between “辛い and 苦しい”? They have subtle differences. When you feel sad, which is correct: “私は辛いです or 私は苦しいです”? After reading this, you would be answering this question. Let me introduce what their subtle differences are and how you correctly use them such as native speakers today!
Hard/Tough time / 辛苦 / 괴로운 / Đau khổ
“辛い” means “Hard/Tough time” and which has been used as the meaning of “Times or period of trouble, struggle, or unhappiness”. The basic way it is “___(something/someone)は/が辛いです. For instance, “私は辛いです(I’m having a hard time.), “勉強するのは辛いです(To study is a hard time.)”, etc. Ordinally “辛い” describes “emotional pain”, unlike 苦しい. Furthermore, we can write “辛い” and “辛い” as the same “kanji”, however, “辛い” means “spicy and hot”, so the way to use them is completely different such as ”このカレーは辛い(This curry is spicy.)”.
Short of breath/Heartbreak / 痛苦 / 어려운 / Khó khăn
“苦しい” means “Short of breath” and which has been used as the meaning of “it is difficult to breathe properly, for example, because you are ill or something.”. The basic way it is “___(something/someone)は/が苦しいです such as “(私は)苦しいです(I’m short of breath.). However, “苦しい” have some meanings such as “生活が苦ししい(I am broke.)”, and “胸が苦しい(It’s breaking my heart.)”. So, the meaning of “胸が苦しい(It’s breaking my heart.)” and “辛い(I have a hard time) is quite similar such as after breaking up with your boy/girlfriend, however, in this case, “辛い” describes much longer periods than “苦しい” which is pretty shorter periods. Both of the meaning is “sad”. Further, “sad” cause actual “short of breath” which is “苦しい”.