The Correct Word: Die, Died, Dead, or Death? (English Grammar)

Die, Died, or Dead?

Many students make mistakes with the words die and death. Here is a quick answer:

to die = a regular verb (die/died/died). Example: I don't want to die. / My dog died. / We will die.

dead = an adjective. Example: Elvis Presley is dead. / I saw a dead mouse.

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clouds in the sky for the dead

 

There is also a noun, death. It is mainly used in two ways.

1) an uncountable noun.  Definition: The end of life. Note: no article (a/an/the) is needed.

Example: I'm afraid of death. / He likes talking about life and death.

2) a countable noun.  Definition: A situation in which a person dies. 

Example: There were many deaths in the war. / The death of John Lennon made many people sad.

 

Do You Think You Understand?

Choose the correct word for the below sentence.

1. This is a dangerous city. If you go outside at night, you might !

2. In 1000 years, I will .

3. Two years ago, my grandmother .

4. is very sad. I wish we lived forever.

5. The police found a body in the forest.

Answers:

Important Note: Pass Away

We often use the phrasal verb pass away instead of the verb die. It is true that phrasal verbs are usually more casual than regular verbs. However, in this case, pass away is more polite and is better for formal situations. 

For example, it is nicer to say, "I'm sorry to hear that your mother passed away" than "I'm sorry to hear that your mother died." The second sentence is not rude, but the first one sounds nicer. The idea of 'passing away' means that the person has passed on, or moved on to a better place (heaven, for example). This is a nicer idea.

Write Your Own Sentences

What do you think about these questions? Write an answer in the comment area below.

  1. What would you like to do before you die?
  2. What customs does your country follow when someone dies?
  3. Where do we go when we die?
  4. Do you think people should think more about death?

– Matthew Barton / Englishcurrent.com

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12 comments on “The Correct Word: Die, Died, Dead, or Death? (English Grammar)

  1. Mammad (Posted on 10-14-2014 at 19:16) Reply

    I think something wrong !!!!!
    the answer for # 2 must be: In 1000 years I will be die, not I will be dead
    Dead is adjective not a verb.

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 10-14-2014 at 20:47) Reply

      Exactly! So the answer is ‘I will be dead’. We use the BE verb before an adjective. =) die is a verb.

      1. GBREDDY (Posted on 3-22-2017 at 00:19) Reply

        You are right.
        ‘Be’ used as verb here.
        Example: He will be there..checkup

    2. GBREDDY (Posted on 3-21-2017 at 07:00) Reply

      I will be die, not correct grammatically.
      I will die ( future simple)
      I will be dying ( future cont.)
      I will be died ( future simple, passive)

      1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-21-2017 at 11:31) Reply

        The fourth sentence is incorrect, however. You can’t make a passive sentence with ‘die’ because the verb has no object (it’s an ‘intransitive verb’). Instead, you would use an adjective (I will be dead).

        1. GBREDDY (Posted on 3-22-2017 at 00:21) Reply

          If I add ‘ by these diseases’,
          I will be died by these diseases. Is it ok.

          Thank you very much.

          1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-22-2017 at 12:23)

            No, you cannot make a passive sentence with ‘die’. Why? Because you cannot ‘die someone’ (the verb ‘die’ cannot have an object ).
            — Compare:
            I killed him. (OK — the verb ‘kill’ can have an object (him) — ‘kill’ is a transitive verb)
            I died him. (WRONG – the verb ‘die’ cannot have an object — it is an intransitive verb)
            I died. (OK — the verb die never has an object after it).

            You can only make a passive sentence with a verb that has an object.

  2. tiddle (Posted on 4-3-2016 at 22:52) Reply

    Obituaries sometimes use the phrase “so-and-so dies at XXX” and “so-and-so is dead at XXX”.

    While grammatically speaking both are correct, I prefer the former usage as it sounds nicer to me. Calling someone “is dead” sounds like a proclamation (almost with a ha-ha at the end) whereas saying someone “dies” sounds more like someone “passes away”.

    Thoughts?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 4-3-2016 at 23:10) Reply

      Hmm. I slightly prefer ‘So-and-so dies at 80’ just because it’s more concise (re: fewer words). I see what you are saying though.

  3. Anonymous (Posted on 12-29-2016 at 07:29) Reply

    But we use the present simple for habitual act or facts or adverbs of frequency so : she dies has got the idea that this person dies every day??!!!!!

    1. mb (Posted on 12-29-2016 at 15:11) Reply

      Yes, it would in regular English. However, newspapers use the present simple in this strange way., e.g. “Trump wins election” means ‘Trump won the election’.

  4. Abhoycharan Basu (Posted on 7-9-2017 at 00:16) Reply

    Nicely explained. Easy to understand and learn the topic. Thanks.

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