I know it's just "Finish him" in Mortal Kombat, but is it really grammatically correct when, say, writing dialogues for characters in a story (eg. a villain saying the line in a superhero story)? All dictionaries say it's "finish him off."

  • Your wooden statue of George Washington looks pretty good, but it lacks varnish. You need to finish him off. ???
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 12:39
  • I think you need to edit to clarify that in Mortal Kombat "Finish him" is what the games announces as an instruction to deliver the coup de grâce to an already-defeated player: not everyone knows this!
    – tmgr
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 12:54
  • Not to be confused with Finnish him, which is an order to speak to him in long words with too many vowels. Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 9:03

1 Answer 1


Grammatically "Finish him" is an imperative verb with a direct object, and is completely normal: like "Eat it".

Lexically, "finish" meaning "kill" is less common than "finish off"; but it does occur.

The iWeb corpus has 2060 instances of "finish/es/ed him off" and 3323 of "finish/es/ed him" (including the 2060).

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