I have a very confused question that has always haunted in my mind, I've intended several time to check it out when it poped out from someone's mouth in the television.

The question is that why people claim "I loved her/him" rather than "I love her/him" given that the one they refer to is already dead. Is't it the LOVE supposed to be an emotion or affection for someone to another. And as I have been told that the past tense should be something which is not meant to be appeared at the present. This is to say, the speaker won't love the dead one anymore which is seemingly inappropriate in the context of Chinese.

In Chinese, for example, if a couple love each other, and then one of them died (no particular things occur like divorce or fighting), we do not tend to say I loved her/him. This, in Chinese context, is "I used love her/him, and I do not love anymore." Put it simply, no matter how far the one has gone, we still love her/him. There is no past tense. Love always maintains, in our memory.

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    Can you clarify. Both "I love him" and "I loved him" might be used of someone who has died. Which one do you find odd?
    – James K
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 11:13
  • Yes, the her/him has died. Since in our culture, when someone's partner, lover, who is important to himself has died, the guy would say like in the funeral "I love him/her" which in Chinese is "我爱她/他" 而不是 " 我爱过他/她”. In Chinese there is no past tense being used", which is different to English expression.
    – Ian Chuk
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 11:23

1 Answer 1


There is no grammatical rule that speakers should use the past tense or present tense when speaking of their love for another person who has died. This is entirely a cultural and personal matter.

A person could say

I loved him when he was alive and continue to love him now that he is gone. He will always have a place in my heart.

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