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.


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.


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 /

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61 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. Demian (Posted on 4-7-2020 at 08:34) Reply

        Hello, can I say, I am death?

        Meaning that I am exhaust so I am with no life.

        I know people doesn’t use normally.

        1. mb Post author (Posted on 4-7-2020 at 13:35) Reply

          Hello. In this case, use the adjective (dead), not the noun (death).

    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. David (Posted on 3-1-2020 at 02:10) Reply

          Wake from the dead or death is the correct sentences.?

          1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-1-2020 at 12:18)

            Wake from the dead has 93 million hits on Google, and wake from death has 28 million. Therefore, I’d use ‘wake from the dead’. Otherwise, ‘come back to life’ is a common expression.

        3. Anonymous (Posted on 3-28-2020 at 14:31) Reply

          If I die yesterday
          Is it correct

        4. fauu (Posted on 7-18-2021 at 05:30) Reply

          How i want to say ” single forever until ” dead , die or dead ” ? i cant use death right ? but which one that i can use ?

          1. MB (Posted on 7-18-2021 at 09:42)

            “single forever until death.” / “single forever until I die.” / “single forever until I’m dead.”. The first sounds best. I think you can remove ‘forever’ since you don’t actually mean ‘forever’ (you only mean from now until you die)

      2. sam vong (Posted on 3-15-2019 at 23:39) Reply

        to be honest I may say I will be dead. because In 1000 years, It will be a long long times ago. So A 100% is I will be dead.

    3. Phil (Posted on 10-9-2023 at 01:34) Reply

      No! No! No!
      2 is correct ‘In 1000 years I will be dead’. Or ‘In 1000 years I will have been dead for …..years
      I will die one day. we will all die one day.
      His death was a shock.
      He is dying, he is going to die.
      He is dead, he died last year! How did he die? He died of a heart attack.

  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”.


    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.

    2. RC (Posted on 10-17-2019 at 07:32) Reply

      My thoughts are similar…

      “So-and-so is pronounced dead at XX” removes the “ha ha” and keeps the proclamation.


      1. Ryan (Posted on 10-17-2019 at 14:08) Reply

        This seems like a phrase you would use after someone has been in the hospital under some scrutiny, i.e. the doctors are not sure if he will survive. Eventually, the doctor pronounces that he is dead. This would be more suitable for someone who died of a long illness, and not suitable for someone who died quickly.

  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. Biyiq (Posted on 9-21-2017 at 08:08) Reply

    So, for number 2 what is the difference between:
    – In 1000 years, I will DIE
    – In 1000 years, I will BE DEAD

    Is it wrong to use DIE in that sentence?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 9-21-2017 at 14:17) Reply

      Both are correct grammatically, but they have different meanings. #1 means that you will die in the year 3017 ( which means you will live another 999 years). #2 just means that you will not be alive (you will be dead, but we don’t know when you died.)

  5. Senmong (Posted on 3-11-2018 at 10:09) Reply

    In case of this sentence, which one is correct. I predicted my own death or dead??

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-11-2018 at 14:15) Reply

      my own death. [noun]

  6. Irene Richley (Posted on 4-4-2018 at 12:06) Reply

    Why do newspapers and news programmes use captions saying: Fred Smith dies?
    Surely, they should say: Fred Smith died
    or; Fred Smith is dead.

  7. Solomon (Posted on 5-15-2018 at 02:26) Reply

    Is ‘Death don’t pay for Dead’ a correct statement?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 5-15-2018 at 03:37) Reply

      To make it grammatical, it would be “Death doesn’t pay for the dead.” I’ve never heard the phrase, but assume it means that even when people die, they still have debts.

  8. Saiful (Posted on 7-4-2018 at 10:51) Reply

    Sir, what if i wrote .. the truth is the baby was dead in that house…or should I put “is” instead of “was”? Which one is correct?

    1. MB (Posted on 7-4-2018 at 12:23) Reply

      It depends. If you mean that the baby stopped living (the action), you should write, “The baby died in that house.” But if you only want to describe that right now, there is a dead baby in the house, you can write, “The baby is dead in that house.” If you want to describe that, in the past, there was a baby that was not living in the house, you write, “The baby was dead in the house.”

  9. Bliss (Posted on 2-23-2019 at 03:26) Reply

    How does the word Die change into the word Death? Does it use a prefix or suffix? How does it change into that and what is the name of words that transform like that?
    Thanks! :)

    1. Antonio LaGranda (Posted on 2-23-2019 at 05:39) Reply

      I DUNNO! I searched the whole google but to no avail! Really, for the first time in my 46 years of life, google failed me…(._.)

    2. mb Post author (Posted on 2-23-2019 at 14:25) Reply

      Die is a verb. Verbs can change into gerunds (a verb in ~ing form), which can be used as a noun. In this case, die can become “dying” so you can make sentences like “Dying is part of life” though you could also say “Death is part of life” by using the actual noun ‘death’ (and not the gerund). The word ‘die’ cannot change into ‘death’. The verb ‘die’ doesn’t use any prefixes or suffixes as far as I know (for example undie/disdie/redie aren’t words). .

      1. Bliss (Posted on 2-24-2019 at 08:29) Reply

        Does your concept apply to other words like ‘long’ to ‘length’ and ‘life’ to ‘live’? :)

        1. mb Post author (Posted on 2-24-2019 at 13:28) Reply

          Hello. The concept behind this page is that verbs, nouns, and adjectives are used differently in sentences. In that sense, the concept applies to all English.

  10. Kenneth (Posted on 6-26-2019 at 10:10) Reply

    Is there a difference between “before dying” and “before you die”?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 6-26-2019 at 13:23) Reply

      No. These sentences express basically the same meaning: “Before dying / Before death / Before you die, you should make a will.”

  11. Liks (Posted on 9-11-2019 at 10:42) Reply

    My grandmother passed away yesterday night

  12. Rico (Posted on 10-14-2019 at 08:14) Reply

    What is the correct sentence?
    If I die today, what will you say to me?
    Or I I died today, what will you say to me?

  13. Rico (Posted on 10-14-2019 at 08:16) Reply

    What verb i will use: die or died?

    1. mb (Posted on 10-14-2019 at 13:41) Reply

      If you are in a situation where there’s a real chance that you will die, you should say : “If I die today, what will you say (to me/my dead body)?”. This is the first (real) conditional.
      If you do not think you will die, use the second (unreal) conditional: “If I died today, what would you say to me?”

  14. Anonymous (Posted on 3-28-2020 at 14:21) Reply

    Is it correct sentence
    What customs does your country follow when someone is dead?
    Please do reply

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-28-2020 at 17:58) Reply

      It is correct, but it would be more natural to use a verb. You can say, “What customs does your country follow when someone dies?” but actually the phrasal verb ‘pass away’ is more polite, so I recommend you say “What customs does your country follow when someone passes away?”

  15. last (Posted on 7-31-2020 at 04:06) Reply

    Which is grammatical correct to say: if we going to die or when we are going to die

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 7-31-2020 at 11:41) Reply

      Both are grammatical. If you are talking about dying (young) in a particular situation (e.g. due to COVID19), you would use ‘If’. If you are talking about dying at a natural old age, use ‘when’.

  16. RJ (Posted on 8-24-2020 at 00:03) Reply

    I’ve been reading a book, called ‘Hatchet’ and there are a few times I’ve seen the author used it as die coolness, die wildness, and die store. I’m confused that the word ‘die’ is a noun? Then it doesn’t make sense. Plus, it is used in front of the sentences without -ing or to. What is it? Can you please help me out?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 8-24-2020 at 00:57) Reply

      Hello. Die has two noun forms. Here they are: 1 singular form of dice. 2 (plural dies) a device for cutting or molding metal into a particular shape.
      – an engraved device for stamping a design on coins or medals.
      ^ does these definitions suit your contexts? ‘Die’ most commonly is the singular form of dice, as it says above.

      1. RJ (Posted on 8-24-2020 at 01:54) Reply

        Thank you for a quick response. I understand what you explained but I’m still confused. Here some sentences I read as examples.
        Those are from Chapter 6 of Hatchte.
        – He had to hold his head slightly tipped기울이다 forward at the front to keep it from hitting die top.
        – He crawled back in, under die ledge, and sat. The sand was cool here in the shade, and die coolness felt wonderful to his face,
        which was already starting to blister and get especially painful on his forehead, with the blisters on top of the swelling.
        He was also still weak.
        – Just die walk around the back of the ridge and the slight climb over the top had left his legs rubbery.
        – What had he read or seen that told him about food in die wilderness?
        Please let me know what ‘die’ means here. Thank you again.

        1. mb Post author (Posted on 8-24-2020 at 13:48) Reply

          It looks like ‘die’ here just means ‘the’. It may be a poor translation from German language, in which ‘die’ means ‘the’. Whoever edited/compiled the book included these errors by accident.

  17. Daniel JJ (Posted on 3-10-2021 at 09:36) Reply

    Please if I say: you don’t know where you are going to when you are dead….please is it correct?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-10-2021 at 09:44) Reply

      Hello. Yes, your sentence is correct. To make it shorter, most people would say “You don’t know where you go when you die”.

  18. Angel (Posted on 1-29-2022 at 09:28) Reply

    Hello which sentence is correct.
    she was to young to die or she died young

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 1-31-2022 at 21:32) Reply

      The first should be “She was too young to die.” The second is correct.

  19. John Connors (Posted on 2-3-2022 at 01:19) Reply

    I was wondering whether a verb can directly follow another verb for example “He marked on a map the exact places where all those who died had lived”. Would “died” be a verb? Isn’t “had lived” also a verb?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 2-6-2022 at 08:19) Reply

      That sentence is fine. In that sentence, “[all those who died]” functions as the subject containing an adjective clause. It is then followed by the main verb “had lived”.

  20. Rock Ng (Posted on 2-18-2022 at 20:41) Reply

    I have seen the following video :
    “Remembering Oscar -Winning Actor Sidney Poitier, Dead at 94”
    Why is it not “Died at” ?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 2-18-2022 at 21:28) Reply

      It could be (He) “Died at 94”, but (He is) “Dead at 94” is also correct for an abbreviated headline.

  21. Tracy (Posted on 5-3-2022 at 13:34) Reply

    Could you use deceased to substitute died? The member deceased yesterday. He deceased in his car.

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 5-3-2022 at 15:50) Reply

      Hello. No, ‘deceased’ is used as an adjective, not a verb.

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