Does the two preposition 'about' & 'for' impart different meaning to the phrases 'sorry for your loss' & 'sorry about your loss' ?
Considering the cases of both personal loss(death) & loss of material possession(e.g. car in accident).

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    There is no difference. Each one is equally awkward. There is no best -- or even good -- way to express your feelings, especially to grieving people. Stick with formulas. Personally, I prefer the Jewish formula "May his/her/their memory be a blessing". That seems to fit nicely everywhere. Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 5:27
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    While both may (?) be equally awkward, and mean the same thing, "Sorry about that", a somewhat less than sincere version of "I'm sorry" was so pervasive that I would not use about with your loss. Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 5:42
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    Jaiswal, as it appears you are a non-native speaker of English, I suggest that this question be asked on English Language Learners instead. The usual expression in India by the way is "Sorry to hear about your loss." (Sunaa hai; Khed huvi) though there are various other ways to put it, as well.
    – Kris
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 6:20
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    @Kris I don't know exactly why, but 'to hear', although logically questionable on a literal reading, is so important pragmatically. Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 7:32
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    If I had lost a camera and someone said "Sorry to hear of your loss" I would wonder why they were being so over sensitive and expressing such deep emotion (as the phrase is now connected with sympathy for loss through death). If they said "I'm sorry to hear that", I would feel the sympathy/empathy transaction was perfectly fulfilled at the right level.
    – Marv Mills
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 9:27

2 Answers 2


The comments to this question are excellent and, collectively, supply a strong answer to the OP's question. In trying to summarize them, let me first deal with the specific case of the friend's lost camera at the Taj Mahal. Neither

I am sorry for your loss.


I am sorry about your loss.

works well in U.S. (and perhaps also in British) English in this instance, because (as Marv Mills observes in a comment above) the open-ended reference to "your loss" is idiomatically closely associated with the loss (by death) of a relative, friend, beloved pet, or other important figure in the bereaved person's life. But the clarified forms

I am sorry for your loss of your camera.


I am sorry about your loss of your camera.

don't work well either, perhaps in part because the duplicate use of "your" gives that word too much emphasis. Though it isn't intended to be, the wording somehow sounds almost sarcastic to me. The normal (U.S.) idiomatic expression would be along the lines of

I'm so sorry that your camera got lost.

or (as Kris and Edwin Ashworth seem to recommend)

I was very sorry to hear about your lost camera.

or perhaps even

It's a shame about the camera. I hate it when things like that happen.

With regard to the partial phrase "sorry about," I think that medica's comment deserves highlighting:

"Sorry about that," a somewhat less than sincere version of "I'm sorry," was so pervasive that I would not use about with your loss.

I don't know whether "sorry about that" has the same unsuitable overtones outside the United States as inside it, but here the phrase is still widely remembered as a catch-phrase of the bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart from the old TV comedy series Get Smart. Especially if the loss for which you wanted to offer commiseration were deep and highly emotional, you couldn't do much worse than to say something resembling "Sorry about that, chief."

Also, to me,

I'm sorry about your loss.

carries a hint of unwarranted blame for the loss, as if the speaker were in some vague sense partly responsible. As Edwin Ashworth notes, adding "to hear" to the wording—"I'm sorry to hear about your loss"—utterly eradicates that faint shadow.

On the other hand,

I'm sorry for your loss.

sounds to me a little too close to "I'm sorry for you for your loss," which evokes the slightly patronizing idiomatic phrase "I feel sorry for you."

I think that John Lawler is correct in saying that English doesn't have an entirely satisfactory form for expressing condolences at the death of someone else's beloved friend or relative. His suggestion, "May his/her/their memory be a blessing"—which I have never heard used—sounds good to me.


The phrase

"sorry for your loss"

is only used in relation to a death.

(If you used it regarding a lost camera, it would sound sarcastic, or just silly.)

Regarding the situation when someone dies. 'sorry for your loss' and 'sorry about your loss' are the same, there's no difference. The first one is more formal.

Regarding a lost camera you'd say "I'm sorry to hear that happened" or "sorry about that." More naturally, you would say "that is bad luck" or a similar phrase.

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