Prepositions to Die With

By Maeve Maddox

A reader wonders about prepositions used with the verb to die:

Just recently when a prominent politician passed away I saw and heard various reports that he had died – FROM cancer, WITH cancer, and OF cancer. Do you have a view on which may be better?

Preposition use is one of the most rapidly changing aspects of traditional English usage. For example, many speakers now say, “excited for” instead of “excited about,” and “alerted of” instead of “alerted to.”

No doubt the usual prepositions used after the verb “to die” will suffer similar displacement, but at present, one dies of a specific disease or identified cause, and one dies from something that leads to death.

Here are some examples of correct usage from the Web:

die of
Dozens Of Migrants Die Of Hypothermia On Italian Coast Guard Boats
Can you die of a broken heart? 
75,000 Nigerians die of cancer yearly
4 children die of poisoning in Guatemala

die from
Deaths from traffic accidents have dropped dramatically over the last 10 years.
A schoolboy died from major internal injuries after falling off a bike. 
College Basketball Player May Have Died From Choking on Chewing Gum

According to context, other prepositions may follow the verb to die:

in: to die in comfort, in poverty
with: to die with your boots on
for: to die for a cause, for nothing
through: to die through neglect, through abuse
by: to die by the sword, by suicide, by a bullet

Die may also be used without a prepositional phrase:

to die a beggar
to die a failure
to die a felon
to die wealthy
to die happy
to die a natural death
to die many deaths (like cowards)

An effective way to internalize traditional English prepositional use is to read widely in traditional English literature while one is young.

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3 Responses to “Prepositions to Die With”

  • thebluebird11

    I was surprised that “to die for” wasn’t in there…as in, “Those shoes are to die for!” LOL
    I wanted to add, “died at peace,” and “died laughing” (figuratively, but could also be literally, I guess).

  • PreciseEdit

    Many men die WITH prostate cancer, but, fortunately, relatively few men die FROM it.

  • Ashish Rawat

    But idiomdictionary.com tells…die in – perish in a calamity or accident.. so it should be they died in an accident rather than die from

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