Using Present Simple in news titles

Systein

Member
Russia - Russian
Hi, I have seen the really weird title of an article. Here is the article US comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies aged 84 - BBC News.

The title is US comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies aged 84

Is it grammatically correct to use Present Simple in this case. I was really confused about this title and still cannot understand this.

However, in the first paragraph there is a sentence which seems perfectly fine to me.

US comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory has died at the age of 84, his family has announced.

Could someone explain this use of Present Simple ?
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    There are two explanations, both related to the selling of newspapers.
    1. Newspaper headline writers try to get maximum meaning into as few words as possible. This allows them to use a larger typeface, which is more visible on the news-stand. This has become standard usage.
    2. The present tense has more immediacy than the past. It's says This is today's news. Nobody is interested in paying for yesterday's news.
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    It is perfectly acceptable to use the simple present like this in news headlines : news headlines do not have to be complete sentences and do not have to follow the same grammar rules.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I have seen the really weird title of an article.
    It is not weird - it is normal.
    Is it grammatically correct to use Present Simple in this case.
    Yes.

    The present simple is an "attention-grabber": it attracts the attention of the person looking at a row of newspapers. The present tense carries a nuance of "immediacy" with it.

    Headlines and titles do not have to comply with ordinary grammar - they have their own styles - the need to sell newspapers and magazines, and thus make money, supersedes this.

    Out of curiosity - are Russian headlines always "grammatical"?
     

    Systein

    Member
    Russia - Russian
    Thank you for replies. Now it makes sense.
    Out of curiosity - are Russian headlines always "grammatical"?
    Of course not :) But mostly they comply with present/past/future grammar rules.

    In this case the verb "die" is used, the verb itself implies Past Tense, but if it was another verb it is not clear whether some action was completed or not.
     
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