Is there any difference between "live life" and "live a life" in daily conversations?

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    Please give (real-life!) examples. Neither expression sounds too natural as it stands; one expects 'life life to the full' or 'live a life worthy of your calling' etc. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 2 at 10:33

"live life" and "live a life"

In "live life" life is uncountable and refers to that which is experienced whilst living, i.e. "life in general".

"Live a life" is, as Edwin Ashworth points out, wrong because it is incomplete - it requires a complement, i.e. "Live a life of happiness/worthy of your calling/that people will remember, etc."

In "Live a life of happiness", "life is countable as it is one life from many possible types of life, and "a" = an example of a life of happiness.

  • The best definition of a count usage is a usage that accepts numerals. 'They lived two lives of happiness' is unacceptable. I'd not class this as a count usage. 'Many/ hundreds of / ten lives were lost' is obviously count. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 2 at 13:17
  • He lived two lives; one as a vicar, one as a bank robber - He lived two examples of lives... – Greybeard Apr 3 at 9:21
  • Yes, that's a count usage. 'He lived a life of happiness and one as a bank robber' is ludicrous. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 3 at 11:52

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