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世の中結局強い物が勝つ。
弱い奴らは死んでいく。
ただそれだけ

弱い奴らは勝手に死んでいくのだ

Maybe a better way of phrasing this question would be asking the difference in using merely plain form and this form.

e.g.

強いものが勝ち弱いものは死ぬ

強いものが生き残り、弱いものは死んでいく

Can someone try to explain the difference in nuance and meaning between them? (And before anyone starts to explain the super basics of ていく I already know and understand them but I'm having trouble understanding it as seen above. I'm not asking for a translation.)

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Edit : Take a look at the comments after reading.

I think this link will answer pretty well your questions, with a nice reflection that helps clarifying the nuances between the different forms.

To sum up :

死ぬ:To be going to die.

死んでいる:To be dead.

死んでいく:To be dying, with the idea that the process is occuring gradually.

ていく also conveys the ideas that what's happening is going away from the speaker, and therefore :

  • Is often used with verbs that are related to disapearance : 消えていく...

  • Makes the speaker sound more objective/indifferent.

On the contrary :

てくる conveys the ideas that what's happening is going toward the speaker, and therefore :

  • Is often used with verbs that are related to appearance: 出てくる...

  • Makes the speaker sound more subjective/concerned.

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    Interesting website. I am no expert at this (and I am not suggesting the website is wrong about "The little Prince") but I thought it was similar to 買物に行ってくる only instead of "going shopping and coming back" this is "The weak die (and don't comeback)". I asked where the statement comes from because it sounds like a general statement; "In this world, in the end, the strong win, the weak die." rather than present/future; "In this world, in the end, the strong will win and the weak are slowly dying"(?)
    – Tim
    Sep 21, 2014 at 2:35
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    In addition to Alox's nice answer, 死んでいく can also mean multiple people die one after another.
    – user4092
    Sep 21, 2014 at 3:05
  • To be honnest, I don't fully understand the meaning of ていく, I just thought this website was a pretty good match with the question... I also feel ていく has that "and don't come back" or "once and for all" flavor with verbs that imply disappearance. I wasn't aware of the "one after another" meaning, which would fit perfectly. "The strongs survive, and the weaks die like flies."
    – Alox
    Sep 21, 2014 at 9:28
  • I read today that てきた can mean continue for a long time so I guess it can apply to ていく aswell.
    – Tim
    Sep 21, 2014 at 10:28
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    @Alox: What conveys "and don't come back" or "once and for all" is ~てしまう. ~ていく and ~てくる has a meaning of gradual change and it can mean accumulation of repetitive occurence when it's applied to a collective thing.
    – user4092
    Sep 22, 2014 at 1:17

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