Chinese Grammar Bank


死了(sǐle) is one of the most commonly used phrases in Mandarin. We often hear people saying things like 今天热死了 (jīntiān rè sǐle) or 我要被他气死了 (wǒ yào bèi tā qì sǐle) in daily conversations.

Well, it might seem easy at first because it’s the same meaning as “dead” in English. But actually 死了 has another very common usage in Mandarin.


The phrase 死了(sǐ le) is similar to “dead” in English, that is, a word to express death and loss of life.

But what’s important here is that “dead” is an adjective in English, while it acts as a verb phrase in Mandarin.

For instance, if you want to express that a dog passed away, you can simply say 这条狗死了。

这条狗死了zhè tiáo gǒu sǐ leThis dog is dead

However, as you can probably tell from this table, “死了” is not a polite way to express someone’s death. So do remember that when you are talking, to avoid some misunderstandings and awkwardness.

“dài ēn sǐ le.” méi jí shuō dào .

“戴恩死了。” 梅吉说道。

“Dane is dead.” Said Meggie.
xiǎo niǎo dòng sǐ le.


The bird froze to death.
View More Phrases
小猫淹死了。xiǎo māo yān sǐ le.The kitten drowned.
歹徒杀死了无辜者。dǎi tú shā sǐ liǎo wú gū zhě.The gangster killed the innocent.
他妻子已经死了十九年了。tā qī zǐ yǐ jīng sǐ le shí jiǔ nián le.His wife has been dead for nineteen years.
他因心脏病发作死了。tā yīn xīn zāng bìng fā zuō sǐ le.He died of a heart attack.

Knowing this basic use would be enough to cover daily conversations if you’re a beginner. However, there’re still other circumstances where it has an entirely different meaning.


In terms of sentence structure, the words before 死了 can roughly divide into verbs and adjectives, that is the structure:


Adjective / Verb + 死了

Aside from its primary use as the verb “to die”, 死了 is equally used as a result complement or degree complement in sentences to express the extreme or high degree of a state or emotion. There are the following forms:

1) To indicate the high degree of a specific state

In the following examples, the meaning of 死了 is virtualised, indicating the depth, extreme, or high degree of a specific state and emotion. Here are some everyday situations to help you understand:

wǒ yào xiào sǐ le!


I almost died laughing!(Slang would be “I’m gonna laugh my ass off.”)
View More Phrases
热死了!rè sǐ le!It’s boiling!
你还不起床,你懒死了。nǐ hái bù qǐ chuáng , nǐ lǎn sǐ le.You’re so lazy if you still don’t get up.
真是烦死了!zhēn shì fán sǐ le “I’m so bored!” OR “It’s driving me nuts!”

2) To express “can’t pass, can’t change”

死了 can also be used after verbs and adjectives to describe “can’t pass, can’t change, lose function.”

For example:

zhè kǔn chái huō yǐ jīng bèi kǔn sǐ le .


This bundle of firewood has been tied firmly.

In this sentence, 死了 is used to describe how firmly the firewood is tied. 

As you can see from these instances, 死了 is often used to modify words such as moods (anger, hate, envy, etc.) and various actions ( squeeze, laugh, etc.). However, you can also comprehend it as an emphasis on what is said before.

Learn Mandarin with Flexi Classes

Book online classes with the best teachers in the industry.


What is 死了?

死了 is one of the most commonly used phrases in Mandarin. You probably heard it in daily conversations used at the end of a sentence to emphasise a state or emotion.

How to pronounce 死了?

死了 is pronounced sǐ le.

How to use 死了?

To put it simple, 死了 is used in two ways.

1) As a verb, 死了 means “dead”.

2) Used at the end of a sentence, 死了 is a degree complement to express the extreme or high degree of a state or emotion.

What are some examples with 死了?

死了 as a verb:

小鸟冻死了。xiǎo niǎo dòng sǐ le. | The bird froze to death.

他因心脏病发作死了。tā yīn xīn zāng bìng fā zuō sǐ le. | He died of a heart attack.

死了 as a degree complement:

我要笑死了!wǒ yào xiào sǐ le! | I’m laughing my ass off.

真是烦死了!zhēnshi fán sǐle! | I am so bored!

Do you have any A1 Chinese grammar lessons?

Yes we do! You can find all of articles on A1 level Chinese grammar in our Grammar Bank here.

Isn’t 死 a Japanese character?

死 is indeed found in the Japanese language. Did you know that Japanese Kanji actually come from the Chinese writing system?

That is why you will find some characters in both languages. Be careful though, as some Japanese characters are NOT to be used in Chinese!