Reading English newspaper headlines


Reading media in the original is a great way to improve your English. It is often used even by those who are just starting this long and difficult journey. However, already at the stage of reading the headline of an English newspaper, a nuisance may arise - a complete lack of understanding of what the article will be about. The reason for this misunderstanding is a typical feature of the English-language titles of articles - the maximum truncation of the sentence in the title. However, if you know the tricks of such truncations, then the first step to getting to know the English-language press can be easily overcome. In this article, we will try to reveal the principles of headline abbreviation in the English media.

Headings from nouns

The most common type of headings is a phrase consisting only of nouns, without a single verb. For example:

Under Pressure from Boss
Unexpected Visit
Overwhelming Response of Voters

It is useful to ask yourself questions like: from what?, about what?, from whom?, to whom? etc. when reading newspaper headlines. By asking yourself these questions, you can start preparing to read the article. This practice helps the brain prepare by thinking about vocabulary related to the subject.

Take for example 'Unexpected Visit.'
I ask myself questions: from whom? why unexpected visit? who visited? etc. These questions will help you focus on words related to relationships, travel, surprises, important reasons for visiting, etc.

Noun chains in English titles

Sometimes the headings are even more complex: there are only nouns, and there can be three, four, five or more in a row. At the same time, they are not connected in any way with each other - neither by a verb, nor by an adjective. For example:

Widow Pension Pay Committee
Landscaping Company Disturbance Regulations
Mustang Referral Customer Complaint

If you come across such a headline, try reading it backwards.

'Mustang Referral Customer Complaint' When you try to read from the end of this heading, you can understand that:
There is a complaint made by a customer about a referral program for Mustang cars.

Modified forms of verbs in titles

Variations on the theme of changing the forms of verbs in headings can be the most unexpected. However, they can be grouped.

  • Simple times are used instead of Continuous or Perfect

    Forgotten Brother Appears = A forgotten brother has appeared
    Professors Protest Pay Cuts = Professors are protesting pay cuts

  • The infinitive form refers to the future tense

    Mayor to Open Shopping Mall = The mayor is going to open a new shopping mall.
    James Wood to Visit Portland = James Wood is going to visit Portland soon.

  • Auxiliary verbs are omitted in the passive voice

    Man Killed in Accident = A Man has been killed in an accident.
    Tommy the Dog Named Hero = Tommy the Dog has been named a hero.

Absence of articles

You may have noticed that there are no articles in the examples of English newspaper headlines in this article. This is also the norm for a headline in the press. Here are some more examples.

President Declares Celebration = The president has declared a celebration.
Passerby Sees Woman Jump = A passerby has seen a woman jump.