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Let's say my friend had just lost his dad and I wanted to express my sympathy, would I need to include "I'm" or is it okay without?

(I'm) sorry about your dad?

My concern is if it would sound like I was apologizing for something about the dad if I didn't include "I'm".

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If your condolences are heartfelt, nobody will be picky about grammar.

However, I feel you should say "I'm sorry about ...". I can see no benefit in leaving out the subject and verb of this sentence. There is no need for you to be casual or save words.

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