"This writer died long ago."
Translation:Этот писатель давно умер.
Would the better, more literal translation be This writer is long dead? Sure it's not the most modern spoken English, but it seems to jive well with the lack of an obvious past tense marker in the Russian here.
I think умер is past tense, but it must be an irregular from. If regular i should have have finished with a л.
There are actually a number of verbs that drop the "л" in the masculine form (because "умерл" is awkward). I don't remember the rules, it may be any time the stem ends in a consonant. But all the other forms will have the -л ending - умер, умерла, умерло, умерли.
«Долго» points to the duration (“for a long time”), «давно» gives you a point in time (“long time ago”). With «долго» it would mean that the writer was dying slowly. You'd need to change the verb to its imperfective counterpart, of course: «Писатель умирал долго».
I wrote "эта", which was marked as a typo, but I thought "писатель" could be feminine? I must have been mistaken.
Well, first you used the feminine form of "погибнуть" and the masculine of "умереть". But besides that "умирать" is stylistically neutral, while "погибнуть" implies a tragic and sudden death, usually the results of accidents, attacks and wars. It's not applied to a death of old age, and is rarely applied to dying from illness (unless we are talking about a plague).
Is писатель always a male writer? I used умерла believing it could be female as well but was rejected. How do you call a female writer?