Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Have you ever noticed the grammar of newspaper headlines?

Have you ever noticed that newspaper headlines have a grammar all of their own?

Consider these two examples:

In the first one, it is proclaimed that a great earthquake kills 1000 people, while in the story below, we can read that a fearful earthquake killed 1000 people.

The second newspaper announces 'Hitler Dead'. Shouldn't it be 'Hitler is dead.'?

In fact, newspaper headlines follow their own particular set of rules. Let's try to decipher some of them:

1 The Present Tense is used for something that happened in the past:


Newborns die after paramedic delay

In a paragraph, we would say the newborns died or the newborns have died.

2 We omit the BE verb:


Sun's P3 girl ad banned for sexism

In a paragraph, we would say that the Sun's ad was banned for sexism.

Samaritans Twitter app investigated

Again, we could say that the Twitter app is being investigated.

3 We use TO to designate a future event.


Catalonia to hold independence vote

In a paragraph, we would say that Catalonia is going to hold an independence vote or that Catalonia will hold an independence vote.


It's a confusing world for learners of English. Newspaper headlines are just one more thing that doesn't seem to make sense when you are trying to master your grammar. As a teacher, a little knowledge of how they work can help you to clear up the confusion.

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