From time to time I come across a sentence with to + verb, but with no other verb in it. I see it often in news titles. For example:

Squall, Tina and Lightning to appear in Final Fantasy Explorers

But what does it mean? What is the difference between this form, and that:

Squall, Tina and Lightning are appearing in Final Fantasy Explorers

The first time I saw that, I thought it was a mistake.

  • 4
    This is short for are to appear, which means are scheduled to appear. Clear? – John Lawler Nov 19 '14 at 19:06
  • 3
    This is called 'headlinespeak', and it's a form of English where the rules of grammar are violated in order to get the headline to fit in the space available, allowing the reader to usually understand what it means and keeping the font as large as possible. – DJClayworth Nov 19 '14 at 19:20
  • 'Headlinespeak' often involves just stringing nouns together. My favourite example is "England Scotland match team captain selection difficulty". – DJClayworth Nov 19 '14 at 19:21
  • @StoneyB: Is that a "use/mention" distinction? Perhaps what DJClayworth should have written was My favourite example: "England Scotland match team captain selection difficulty". No verb there! – FumbleFingers Nov 19 '14 at 19:49

The example you quote is not grammatically correct, but it's not a mistake. It's an unofficial abbreviated form of English often called 'headlinese', used for newspaper headlines and similar statements. Words that would be commonly understood are removed (such as the 'are' in your example) so that the headline can fit in the available space, and so that the font can be as large as possible while getting the meaning across.

  • 2
    Google Books only has two instances of headlinespeak, against a claimed 1540 hits for headlinese (which is what I'm more familiar with). – FumbleFingers Nov 19 '14 at 22:58
  • I'm good with that. I confess to relying on memory for that. – DJClayworth Nov 20 '14 at 15:28

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