5. (informal) full of life and energy

Source: Collins Dictionary – definition of "live"

For the meaning above, which of the following usages is correct? Which one would you use?

  1. A live person
  2. An alive person

I think "live" is for plants, animals or things where their life is not noticeable.

5 Answers 5


“A live person” — a person who is not dead. The only situation I can think of where this would occur is by contrast to a dead person or in a simile comparing an inanimate object, probably with emphasis — “(like) a live person”. For example “The puppet moved like a live person” sounds OK to me.

“An alive person” — as a native speaker, I don't believe I have ever heard the sequence of words “an alive person”; it feels extremely clumsy in my mouth. You would never use the adjective “alive” like that. It would always come at the end “that person is alive”.

I think "live" is for plants, animals or things where their life is not noticeable.

There are distinctions between the two words, for sure, but this isn't one that makes any sense to me whatsoever (as a native speaker).


The sense of “live" that you've pulled from Collins is a very specific use. The only example I can think of for that specific sense is in the informal fixed phrase “live wire”:

live wire


  1. (informal) an energetic or enterprising person
  2. a wire carrying an electric current

    Source: Collins Dictionary – definition of “live wire”

Generally speaking, if you want to say someone is “full of life” (unusually energetic), you'll be better off with “lively”. For example:

“He's just this great old guy — he's confined to a wheelchair, but he's so lively. He's ninety-five years old, yet you wouldn't know it to talk to him.”
Source: Jelly's Gold, by David Housewright

If you want to use “live” in its usual sense of specifying whether or not someone or something is dead, pay attention to the first definition of the adjective:



  1. (prenominal) showing the characteristics of life

    Source: Collins Dictionary – definition of “live”

“Prenominal” means that this adjective is used before the subject. Therefore “a live person” is correct, and means that the person is not dead, is not a robot, is not a recorded voice on the phone, or, as in the following example, is not plastic in the shape of a person.

Plastic mannequins are helpful for this kind of work, but the clients usually prefer a “live” fit or showroom model so they can see how the fabric moves with the person, and they are able to ask questions about how an article of clothing Feels. A live person also gives a more genuine feel as to how the fabric is going to drape. Or if an outfit is pulling somewhere that just does not feel right, a person (as opposed to a mannequin) can say something about it.
Source: Break into Modeling for Under $20, by Judy Goss

“An alive person” is not correct, because “alive” is postpositive, i.e. placed after the word that it refers to. That means you would want to say “A person [who is] alive”. This syntax will require you to include a being verb in order to name the state of the person. This usage is usually less metaphorical, and is generally restricted to cases were there are two options: alive or dead. For example:

Burden of proving that [a] person is alive who has not been heard of for seven years.
— Provided that when the question is whether a [person] is alive or dead, and it is proved that [the person] has not been heard of for seven years by those who would naturally have heard of [the person] if [the person] had been alive, the burden of proving that [the person] is alive is shifted to the person who affirms it.
Source: Of the Burden of Proof, §108 in The Law of Evidence by M. Monir

  • Thank you so much. Nonetheless, what does He's ninety-five years old, yet you wouldn't know it to talk to him.” means?
    – nima
    Apr 7, 2014 at 14:15
  • @nima_persian He is old, but it doesn't show. Presumably, he doesn't exhibit much of the usual characteristics of advanced age like slowed speech and/or movement. He is spry. Apr 7, 2014 at 14:30

When it means not dead, the adjective alive is a predicate adjective and the adjective live is an attributive adjective. You use live when it comes before the noun, and you use alive in all other positions. For example:

This is a live frog.
This frog is alive.

There are some uses where live is acceptable as a predicate adjective, and where you would not use alive.

This TV show is being filmed live.
This electrical wire is live.


A **lively **person is someone who is full of life an energy.. "Alive" means not dead. "Live" is used for things like concerts, programmes,etc., to show that the event is shown the moment it is being broadcasted and that it isn't recorded.Example: Live coverage of the World Cup.

  • Great. Thank you so much. Nevertheless, what a bout my original questions?
    – nima
    Apr 4, 2014 at 15:07
  • @nima_persian Lively = full of energy and life. "A lively person" is correct. "A live person" and "alive person" both are wrong. "The person is alive" and "The person is not dead" are also correct. Apr 4, 2014 at 15:17
  • Thank you all for your supports, but would you take a look at the Dictionary Collins? The entry LIVE AS AN ADJECTIVE
    – nima
    Apr 4, 2014 at 15:27
  • When you say a live animal, for example, you mean it is not dead. example: Yesterday at the zoo, I saw a real live rattlesnake. It's not used for a person. Maybe in the sense that for example:Yesterday, at the wax musuem, I accidentally hit a real live person.( not a wax model).
    – Vic
    Apr 4, 2014 at 18:26

live (informal) full of life and energy. This definition doesn't apply to people. It applies to subjects/questions of interest or importance at the present time. Example, Pollution is still very much a live issue So, "it is full of life and energy" means that it has attracted the attention of people.

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