In this quiz, I came across this sentence.

While some types of coral reefs off the Hawaiian coastline are living others are dead.

But if it were me, I would use the word alive instead of living.

While some types of coral reefs off the Hawaiian coastline are alive others are dead.

I would say the cat is alive!(after I saw a cat which seemed apparently dead but was not dead yet) rather than the cat is living!.

Is my usage correct? And what is the difference in meaning between those two sentence?

  • 2
    But in your case of the cat, the meaning is "not dead, as I thought, but rather the opposite -- alive!". That's a binary state and "alive" is appropriate. In the case of the sentence about the reef, the meaning is that some reefs flourish while others are dead, and so "living" is appropriate as it refers to ongoing existence. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 14 '15 at 18:45

Both are correct in this context, since they are synonyms for each other (they have the same meaning).

living, adj.

  1. having life; being alive; not dead.
  2. in actual existence or use; extant.
  3. active or thriving; vigorous; strong.

alive, adj.

  1. having life; living; existing; not dead or lifeless.
  2. living.
  3. in a state of action; in force or operation; active.

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