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In my mother language, when someone dies, friends and family usually try to say their condolences to everyone who is suffering from that loss. What we say is as follows:

I say condolences to you.

I've Googled and found just 7 hits with the above sentence. It seems that there is something wrong with my sentence. How would native speakers say this, especially in AmE?

20

"I am very sorry for your loss," is probably most common. You can elaborate if you wish, but otherwise this is simple and sufficient, especially if you are not very close to either the bereaved or the deceased.

  • Thank you very much Andrew. But how about when someone suggests you say your condolence to them? E.g. when a mother is telling her son that this is a moral duty and you should do that, is it possible for the mother to say: "You’ve got to go there and say condolences to them."? – A-friend Dec 19 '16 at 21:06
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    @A-friend I misunderstood the question. The verb is "to give condolences (to the bereaved)", so the mother would say, "Go over there and give (them) your condolences." The child would then tell the bereaved family, "I'm sorry for your loss." – Andrew Dec 19 '16 at 21:08
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    @A-friend, the closest common phrase in AmE is "I offer you my condolences", but it would be common to use Andrew's phrase or just "My condolences", or "My condolences at your loss". – The Photon Dec 19 '16 at 22:46
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    @A-friend Just because you're told to "give your condolences" doesn't mean you need to use that word. – Catija Dec 19 '16 at 23:00
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    @A-friend "Go there" doesn't sound quite right in this context to me. "Go over there" sounds better to me for this context, or in the same context you could say something like "Go talk to them and offer your condolences" (American) or "Go and talk to them; offer your condolences" (British), or simply "Go offer your condolences" (American)/"Go and offer your condolences" (British). – Muzer Dec 20 '16 at 9:44
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I would like to offer you my condolences

or

My condolences on the death of your grandmother

Is how you would say that. If you actually knew person who died though, they would probably expect something more personal, to the tune of.

I was so sorry to hear that your grandmother passed away, She was such a nice woman and I always enjoyed her company.

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    It may depend on the region, at least in California this comes across as very formal. For people you don't know well it's perfectly acceptable. If you are close friends with the mourner, it may come across a bit odd. – Morgen Dec 20 '16 at 3:00
  • @Morgen mstorkson basically said that in the answer. – user32753 Dec 20 '16 at 6:59
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    @123 I didn't read it that way. The answer talks about the speaker's relationship with the deceased, which is mostly irrelevant. The relationship between the speaker and the mourner determines what level of familiarity is appropriate. It also presents it as neutral in tone, rather than extremely formal, which is how it sounds to my ear. "I would like to offer my condolences" is something a boss would say on your first day back at work. A neutral way of expressing the same idea would be "I'm sorry for your loss.", leaving off any personal anecdote or embellishment. – Morgen Dec 20 '16 at 7:08
  • @Morgen, even in California, offering condolences to the bereaved is generally done with a certain amount of formality. Although you're correct that if you're close friends you will hopefully have more than one sentence to say to them. – The Photon Dec 20 '16 at 15:48
  • @ThePhoton I agree that a certain level of formality is expected. "I'm sorry for your loss" provides this. "I would like to offer my condolences" is emotionally atonal, explicitly distances the speaker from the mourner, and is thus conspicuously formal. It's similar to using "I would like to apologize for ..." to deflect blame via non-apology. – Morgen Dec 20 '16 at 16:26

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