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Written Texts Section 2 6

292 headlines
1 special language
Headlines are the short titles above news reports (e.g. d o g f in d s r o m a n
TREASURE). English news headlines can be very difficult to understand.
One reason for this is that headlines are often written in a special style, which is
very different from ordinary English. In this style there are some special rules of
gram m ar, and words are often used in unusual ways.
2 grammar
a Headlines are not always com plete sentences. Many headlines consist of noun
phrases with no verb.
MORE WAGE CUTS LUXURY HOTEL DEATH
EXETER MAN’S DOUBLE MARRIAGE BID

b Headlines often contain strings of three, four or m ore nouns; nouns earlier in
the string modify those that follow.
FURNITURE FACTORY PAY CUT PROTEST
Headlines like these can be difficult to understand. It som etim es helps to read
them backwards, f u r n it u r e f a c t o r y p a y c u t p r o t e s t refers to a p r o t e s t about
a CUT (reduction) in PAY at a FACTORY that m akes FURNITURE.
с Headlines often leave out articles and the verb be.
SHAKESPEARE PLAY IMMORAL SAYS HEADMASTER
SCHOOLBOY WALKS IN SPACE

d In headlines, simple tenses are often used instead of progressive or


perfect forms. The simple present is used for both present and past events.
STUDENTS FIGHT FOR COURSE CHANGES . are fighting . .)
BLIND GIRL CLIMBS EVEREST (= . . . has climbed . . .)
The present progressive is used to talk about changes. Be is usually dropped
BRITAIN GETTING WARMER, SAY SCIENTISTS TRADE FIGURES IMPROVING
e Many headline words are used as both nouns and verbs, and nouns are often
used to modify other nouns (paragraph b above). So it is not always easy to
work out the structure of a sentence. Compare;
US CUTS AID TO THIRD w o r ld (= The US reduces its help . . . CUTS is a verb
AID is a noun.)
AID CUTS PROTEST (= There has been a protest about the reduction in aid.
a id and CUTS are both nouns.)
CUTS a id REBELS (= The reduction is helping the revolutionaries. CUTS is a
noun, a id is a verb.)
f Headlines often use infinitives to refer to the future.
PM TO VISIT a USTRALIA HOSPITALS TO t a k e f e w e r p a t ie n ts
For is also used to refer to future m ovem ents or plans.
TROOPS FOR GLASGOW? (= Are soldiers going to be sent to Glasgow?) ->

gram m ar • 292 headlines