In today’s article called “How to tell someone a person has died”, I am going to share with you something particular. I want to explain to you how to tell people that someone has died.

I will start by explaining how journalists announce well-known people’s death and also, I will explain to you how to share this bad news with friends and family.

Keep reading if you want to be able to speak Italian in every situation!

The Day of the Dead is nearing, and it is quite important for all of us Italians. On this day we go to the cemetery, remember our dearly departed and pay our respects to them.

I have already talked about this in a previous article of mine called Does Halloween Exist in Italy? in which you will find the traditions, including foods, associated with this day.

Today, however, I want to talk to you about a topic that I might describe as “unhappy”, but which may interest us all. I am talking about how to tell someone that a person has died.

I decided to write this article following specific questions from my students and considering that it is unfortunately an ever-present topic I decided to share some information with you too!

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How to tell someone that a person has died

Depending on the situation you can use different verbs, being more or less attentive to the feelings of those you tell this bad news to.

But let’s not waste any more time and start by listing the verbs to be used in this situation:

  • Morire
  • Decedere (used only in the compound form)
  • Scomparire
  • Mancare
  • Spegnersi
  • Lasciare
  • Essere and esserci in the negative form

Let us therefore proceed in order and see how to make people aware that there has been a bereavement.

The first verb that everyone would immediately think of is undoubtedly morire. Using this verb might seem a bit too direct, but if the news of someone’s passing is only given for informative purposes to people who do not know the deceased directly, as journalists might do for example, using this verb is more than fine.

As seen above, however, morire is not the only verb that can be used in this situation. We can choose to be more or less formal, and this depends on two main factors:

  • whether or not we know the deceased person directly.
  • whether we are familiar with the person to whom we are giving the news.

How to tell someone that a person has died: more formal and detached way

When there is no direct relationship with the deceased, or if the deceased is not a relative or close friend, but only an acquaintance or someone about whom we have heard briefly, we can resort to the following verbs and phrases:

    • Decedere: Ieri è deceduto lo stimato signor Rossi. (The esteemed Mr. Rossi passed away yesterday).
    • Scomparire: È scomparso nella notte la nota signora Bianchi. (The renowned Mrs Bianchi passed away during the night).
    • Spegnersi: Si è spento all’alba di oggi Giorgio Verdini. (Giorgio Verdini passed away at dawn today).


To these phrases it is necessary to add another frequently used one:

  • C’è stata la dipartita del caro Antonio. (Dear Antonio has passed away).

The term dipartita indicates a departure, a parting, and obviously can also be used in a figurative sense to indicate someone’s departure from the world of the living.

How to tell someone that a person has died: the more informal and affectionate way

When we give such terrible news to someone close to us who also knew the deceased, we should avoid the verb morire because it is too direct. It would also be better to avoid all the phrases seen above because, as we have seen, they are too formal and detached.


What should we do then?

Go ahead and use other verbs and phrases that will allow us to communicate with more tact and empathy:

    • Andarsene: Mi dispiace dirti che Tizio se ne è andato questa mattina. (I am sorry to tell you that Tizio passed away this morning).
    • Lasciare: Caio ci ha lasciati nella notte. (Caio left us in the night).
    • Mancare: Tizio è mancato questa mattina. (Tizio passed away this morning) or also much used Caio è venuto a mancare questa mattina (Caio passed away this morning).
    • Essere and Esserci in the negative form: Purtroppo il caro Tizio non è più tra noi. (Unfortunately, dear Tizio is no longer with us). Purtroppo Caio non c’è più. (Unfortunately, Caio is no longer with us).


As you have noticed, this article is a bit different from the usual, precisely because it talks about a topic, that of death, which in our society is often considered taboo.

However, I hope that you find this article interesting and intriguing and that you learn some new things that you were not aware of before. Obviously, I wish you would never have to use all these phrases, but to make your learning of the language more complete and exhaustive, it seemed right to address this topic.

After all, death is something we unfortunately have to deal with every day and which we have to talk about, even in Italian.

ilaria firma

Listen to this episode called “How to tell someone a person has died” in Italian! You can find the script here!

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