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Steve Ballmer writes:

“I want to express my deepest condolences at the passing of Steve Jobs, one of the founders of our industry and a true visionary. My heart goes out to his family, everyone at Apple and everyone who has been touched by his work.”

I can't say if it's wrong, but what is the difference between "on the passing" and "at the passing"? As most other websites use "on the passing".

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1 Answer 1

The preposition on usually goes with condolences.

Other phrases or words referring to death can be inserted here:

I wish to express my condolences on your recent loss | the death of your father | the passing of Steve Jobs.

There is no difference in meaning between at and on in this instance but on is preferred.

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I dispute that on is preferred. Searching Google Books for "on/at the passing of xxx" with various "disambiguating" values for "xxx" (such as John, Mr, Sir, etc.) shows no such preference - if anything, it seems to me that "at" actually occurs slightly more often. –  FumbleFingers Feb 7 '12 at 18:09
@FumbleFingers: The ngarm inserted at the top by Armen shows "on" slightly more often. –  user17857 Feb 7 '12 at 19:42
@Mohammad: There are many different constructions where Armen's shorter search term condolences on/at will favour on, when it's not actually the context we're looking at here. That's why I specifically searched for both versions followed by "the passing of xxx", for several different values of xxx that could only indicate the actual name of an individual who had died. –  FumbleFingers Feb 7 '12 at 20:57

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