What Do I Say When Someone Has Died?

None of us will live forever. Death (end of life) is the eventual (someday) destination (where you are going) of all of us.

If you have a friend, co-worker, or someone you know who has lost (had someone die) a loved one (someone they loved), what should you say to him or her in English?

Here are some common expressions you can use:

> “My condolences.” [pronounced: con-DOH-len-sus]

This two-word phrase is probably the easiest to remember and use. If you want to remember just one phrase, this is it.

This simple phrase works in any situation where you want to express your sympathy (being sorry, support) to someone when a loved one dies.

If someone tells you, “My grandmother died last week,” you can respond by saying, “Oh, my condolences” or “My condolences to you and your family” (notice the preposition “to” here).

People also sometimes add the word “sincere,” as in “My sincere condolences.” To be sincere means you really do or honestly feel this way.

> “I’m very sorry to hear that.

You can also say that you are sorry to hear about the person’s loss, either with or without the expression “My condolences.”

You can say, for example, “I’m very sorry to hear that. My condolences.”

> “I’m sorry for your loss.

This is basically the same as the previous example – you are saying you are sad to hear about the person’s death. The “loss” is of course the person who has died.

> “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

This is a little more impersonal and formal, something you might see someone say in the newspaper or on social media.

You are saying that you are thinking about that person (“thoughts”) and, if you’re religious, praying for that person and his or her family.

It is also possible to say simply “Our thoughts are with you” and “Our prayers are with you.”


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