Dramatic vs Tragic

When Should We Use Dramatic and When Should We Use Tragic?

The words dramatic and tragic are very different in English but are often confused by learners (particularly those who speak Dutch).  Both words come from Latin & the world of theatre (i.e. tragic drama).


Meaning:  1. exciting, impressive, surprising.    2. sudden.  Dramatic is the adjective of the noun drama which means a play (i.e. acting on a stage in the theatre).

In Context:

    • There’s been a dramatic improvement in his work.
    • The corona virus caused a dramatic decrease in sales for many businesses.
    • She’s a very dramatic person, isn’t she?


  • (nouns): dramatic change, dramatic result, dramatic incident, dramatic arrival, dramatic ending, dramatic game
  • (verbs):  to be / to sound
  • (adjectives): extremely, terribly, quite, very, rather

Examples:  Use the cream regularly and you’ll soon see a dramatic improvement to the neck, chin and lines around the mouth and eyes.


Meaning:  extremely sad (typically a result of loss of life or terrible suffering).

In Context:

  • The people in Yemen are in a tragic situation.  The war has gone on for years and they have no food.
  • The fire resulted in a tragic loss of life.


  • (nouns):  tragic situation, tragic death, tragic accident, tragic victim, tragic loss of life, tragic waste.
  • (verbs):  to be / to seem
  • (adjectives): very, really, terribly, quite, rather, particularly, genuinely

Examples: A police spokesman said last night:’ It was a very tragic accident.’ The girl was dead when the ambulance arrived.
Garry was’ absolutely hysterical’ when he phoned yesterday with the tragic news.

  Teach Or Learn?Phrasal Verbs With Across   


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