Here is a text from a video game I read which is written on a tombstone:

Margaret Alice Miller 1892 - 1941 Beloved Mother, Daughter, Sister, and Friend

Margaret Alice Miller was a beloved member of the Marion Forks community, as well as one of its founding members. Mother to Joseph Miller, the first mayor of Marion Forks, Margaret worked tirelessly to build the town that stands strong today, a testament to her work.

Moving from Portland to Marion Forks when Joseph purchased the once-small homestead in 1923, Margaret and Joseph developed the land into a community for the Forest Department and its road crews. The property quickly grew into Marion Forks, of which Joseph became its first mayor.

Margaret died the way she lived: fearless, tireless, and adventurous. Gored by a buck while on a hunting trip with her son, she passed in the night, ever fighting to live and see her community flourish and prosper.

She's preceded by her son, Joseph Miller, and her beloved community, of which she'll always be protecting as its guardian angel.

I am interested in the bold part where it says she is preceded by her son. What does it mean? Not a native English speaker so I wonder if this means she died before her son or after?

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    Welcome! By the way, there's an English Language Learners stack exchange as well, focusing specially on the kinds of questions that confront non-native speakers. But this is just an error. I'll elaborate in an answer. Dec 7, 2021 at 15:39
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    'He is preceded by' and the like are common in obituaries, but not in everyday English (and few dictionaries seem to pick up on this important subsense). It's in the narrative present and 'X is preceded by A, B, C ...' means 'X has just died [at the time of writing]; A, B, C ... [relatives of X] had already died'. Dec 7, 2021 at 16:01
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    I’m voting to close this question because it's asking about the "meaning" of some effectively "lorem ipsum" placeholder text in the background images within a video game. Dec 7, 2021 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


Errors in usage are not unusual in video games. It's common for obituaries (which this seems more like, as I can't imagine it fitting on a tombstone!) to mention relatives of the deceased who live on after them, with the phrase "[she] is survived by...". It's less common, though not unimaginable, for a tombstone to reference relatives who died earlier than the deceased, perhaps with a phrase like "preceded in death by" ("preceded," alone, would not be idiomatic in this context). This page about Roman epitaphs shows one Lucius Aurelius Hermia devoting a bit of his own epitaph to praising his wife, "she who preceded me in death."

However, this is an unlikely reading in this context. Maybe Joseph Miller might have (tragically) died before his mother—but unless you're playing a zombie game, it's unlikely that the entire "beloved community" did.

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    The whole text is very clumsily expressed. They 'moved to Marion Forks' and then 'the property grew into Marion Forks'!? Dec 7, 2021 at 16:10
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    And "... her beloved community, of which she'll always be protecting" can lose the "of." As I said—video games don't exactly run on Strunk & White. Dec 7, 2021 at 16:15
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    As a matter of fact, the game is a zombie game. Dec 7, 2021 at 16:35
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    +1 for "unless you're playing a zombie game"! But even though apparently it is a zombie game, I'm sure you're quite right that preceded (or the potentially more accurate predeceased) is completely wrong for the context. The moral of the story here being Don't attempt to learn English by poring over "background" text in video games. Dec 7, 2021 at 16:53

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