It can be exceptionally difficult to decide how to speak to someone going through a period of grief. One way to express sympathy is to offer condolences, but is the phrase “accept my condolences” the right way to go about this? Read on to find out.
Is It Correct to Say “Accept My Condolences”?
“Accept my condolences”, although formal and perhaps impersonal, is correct English. The phrase is an expression of sympathy, usually directed at someone who has lost a loved one. It is often preceded by “please” or followed with an explanation of why you are offering condolences.
It is perfectly grammatically correct to say “accept my condolences” when offering sympathy to someone who has experienced some kind of misfortune. However, it would usually be polite to start the sentence with “please” in order to make the statement less demanding.
Consider these sentences to illustrate this point:
- I heard that your guinea pig passed away last night. Accept my condolences for your loss.
- I was so sad to hear about the passing of Sigmund! Please accept my condolences; he was a wonderful guinea pig.
The former sentence comes across as a tad demanding and impersonal, while the latter is far more genuine and emotive. Thus, if you want to get the message across that you are truly sympathetic, it’s better to use the phrase with a “please” preceding it.
However, the phrase may also be used sarcastically or to be humorous. For example, if you think that someone’s misfortune isn’t particularly serious, you might be less than sympathetic.
- Person 1: Our online Call of Duty match didn’t go very well.
- Person 2: Oh heavens, poor you. Please accept my condolences.
So, we now know that it’s grammatically correct to say “accept my condolences” in English. However, you may still find this expression too impersonal and need some help thinking up what to say instead of “accept my condolences”. Read on for some potential alternative phrases.
Other Ways to Say “Accept My Condolences”
Other ways to say “accept my condolences” are “my condolences”, “I’m sorry for your loss”, and “my deepest sympathies”. These phrases make great synonyms and may even be better suited if you want to come across as more sincere and sympathetic.
1. My Condolences
In this example, we simply drop the verb “accept”.
Simply saying “my condolences” makes clear that you are offering sympathies without including the subtle demand that the receiver should accept those sympathies.The receiver can take or leave your sympathies, but you’re offering them anyway.
Like “accept my condolences”, “my condolences” can be used to express sympathy when someone has suffered a loss or any other kind of misfortune. It can also be used genuinely or sarcastically, depending on the context.
- I see your League of Legends match didn’t go very well, my condolences.
- My condolences, I had no idea you two were so close.
- I offered my condolences, but I don’t think she was ready to talk about it.
- Please give her my condolences when you see her next.
2. I’m Sorry for your Loss
“I’m sorry for your loss” is a far less formal way to say “accept my condolences”. This phrase has a narrower scope of use, however, since it can’t really be used for any circumstances other than a loss, usually of a friend or family member.
- I’m sorry for your loss, he was a wonderful guinea pig and will be sorely missed.
- I just want you to know how sorry I am for your loss; losing a pet is never easy.
- Please let her know how sorry we all are for her loss.
3. My Deepest Sympathies
“My deepest sympathies” is a highly emotive way to express condolences. It can, therefore, be used in place of “accept my condolences” when talking to someone in mourning.
- I was horrified to hear of the passing of Sigmund. May I offer my deepest sympathies.
- My deepest sympathies to you and your family.
- We send our deepest sympathies to the bereaved.
- Let me extend my deepest sympathies to all involved.
The single word “condolences” can also be used to express the same sentiment as “accept my condolences. This phrase can be used particularly if you are a fan of brevity.
The benefit of this term is that it can be used in a multitude of situations and isn’t limited to circumstances where someone has experienced loss.
- I hear you didn’t manage to get the job. Condolences.
- Condolences, he will be sorely missed.
- The chairman extends his deepest condolences to you and your family.
- I want to offer my most heartfelt condolences for what you’ve gone through.
5. Accept My Sympathy
“Accept my sympathy” or “accept my sympathies” are further alternatives to the phrase “accept my condolences”. Like the latter phrase, however, they may also come across as slightly demanding.
Here, we’ve simply switched out “condolences” for “sympathy”. These words appear to be somewhat synonymous.
After all, condolences are defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “sympathy and sadness for the family or close friends of a person who has recently died”. It literally has “sympathy” in its definition.
“Sympathy” is defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as “(an expression of) understanding and care for someone else’s suffering”.
Expressing sympathy and expressing condolences is therefore one in the same sentiment.
- Please accept my sympathy for your loss.
- I heard what happened, accept my sympathy, please.
- I have sent a letter asking her to accept our sympathies for what happened.
Accept My Condolences or Condolence?
The phrase “accept my condolence” is technically correct and is another way to say “accept my condolences”.
However, condolences are usually offered directly in the pluralized form. “Condolence”, on the other hand, is more frequently used when referring to a letter or message of condolence.
- I’ve sent a letter of condolence to his family.
- Please send a message of condolence at your earliest convenience.
This is because “condolence” is a feeling. More particularly, it is used when one is feeling sympathetic. Usually, in English, we express our feelings in a pluralized form.
“Accept my condolence” also comes across as more formal than the alternative. So, since it’s perfectly correct to use either one, you can choose how to phrase your expression of sympathy according to the context.
- Please accept my condolence for what happened.
- Accept my condolence, please, as I know how hard it is to lose someone close to you.
The above sentences are perfectly grammatically correct, but you might think it sounds better to replace “condolence” with the plural form “condolences”. Let’s see how this would look:
- Please accept my condolences for what happened.
- Accept my condolences, please, as I know how hard it is to lose someone close to you.
It sounds a bit better, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, it’s up to you to choose which version you prefer. Like we said at the start, asking someone to “accept” either your condolence or condolences may not be ideal if you want to be emotive and sympathetic as opposed to demanding.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.