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Newspaper Headlines

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Have you ever read an item of news in a newspaper? If you haven’t, you may not imagine how difficult it can be and if you have, you may not have understood a lot. Here’s an explanation on newspaper writing. Read it carefully and afterwards check your level of understanding by reading some news, you’ll see then that it’s not that difficult, after being explained, of course! 🙂

Newspaper headlines are not always complete sentences. Many headlines consist of noun phrases with no verb.

  • MORE POWER CUTS
    (There are/will be more power cuts)
  • TERROR ALERT IN CAPITAL
    (There is/was a terror alert in the capital)

Articles and the verb be are often left out in headlines.

  • HUSSAIN PAINTING OBSCENE, SAYS MINISTER
    (The Hussain painting is obscene, says the Minister)
  • OLD MAN SCALES EVEREST
    ( An old man, has scaled Mt. Everest)

In headlines, simple tenses are often used instead of progressive (-ing forms) or perfect forms. The simple present is used for both present and past events.

  • FORMER PM PASSES AWAY
    (Former PM has passed away.)
  • BLIND GIRL CLIMBS EVEREST
    (Blind girl has climbed Everest.)

The present progressive is used to talk about changes. Be is usually eliminated.

  • EARTH GETTING WARMER, SAY SCIENTISTS
    (Earth is getting warmer)
  • TRADE FIGURES IMPROVING
    (Trade figures are improving)

Headlines often use infinitives to refer to the future.

  • PM TO VISIT CANADA
    (The PM is going to visit Canada)
  • BUSINESS SCHOOLS TO TAKE MORE STUDENTS
    (Business schools are going to take more students)

For is also used to refer to future movements or plans.

  • INDIAN TROOPS FOR IRAQ?
    (Are Indian soldiers going to be sent to Iraq?)
  • MORE TESTS FOR STUDENTS
    (More tests are in store for students this year)

Auxiliary verbs are usually dropped from passive structures, leaving only past participles.

  • SIX PEOPLE KILLED IN EXPLOSION
    (Six people have been killed in an explosion)
  • INDIAN HELD FOR MURDER
    (An Indian is being/has been held for murder)

Note that forms like held, found and attacked are usually past participles with passive meanings, not past tenses.

Compare:

  • NUCLEAR DEAL ROW: PM ATTACKED
    (PM has been attacked because of a nuclear deal fight.)
  • NUCLEAR DEAL ROW: PM ATTACKS OPPOSITION
    (PM has attacked his opposition because of a nuclear deal fight)

A colon (:) is often used to separate the subject of a headline from what is said about it.

  • POWER CRISIS: GOVERNMENT TO ACT
    (The Government is going to act over the power crisis)
  • BUILDING COLLAPSE: DEATH TOLL RISES
    (The death toll from the building collapse has risen)

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