Whenever I see information about someone's recent death (usually well known, if this makes a difference), the expression used is

John Doe has died.

Why is this tense used? What about the alternatives

  • John Doe died.
  • John Doe is dead.

2 Answers 2


has died = a recent fact

died = an event from the past (maybe in chain of events or with details like date, cause of death, etc.)

is dead = John's contemporary status (he's not with us or just found dead)


Because when famous people die, like John McCain, unless they say the day or hour or both, it just means it happened. If you say X died, you would have to say more.

By just saying: x has died, that is enough for a headline.

Otherwise, you would have to say: X died this morning in blah blah blah, for example.

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