I've found these two sentences in newspaper headlines and there are two things I am not sure about:

  1. Haas beats Wawrinka
    Tommy Haas claimed the biggest win of the season against Wawrinka. He beats #3 in the World 5-7/ 6-2/ 6-3 and reach the quarterfinal in Rome. On the Foto is Tommy with a icepack after the match. Now he has 1.45 hours rest before the doubles start.

Do I understand it right that there could be has claimed but because of newspaper style—it is perfect to use shorter past simple? Is it the same like: Three people killed in a car accident? Present perfect would be possible as well but it would be too long for this purpose.

  1. Federer forgets he's won the match. source

This surprised me a lot. I thought it wasn't possible to use the present perfect in headlines.

  • Why do you think the writer decided to use that tense? Was it for emphasis?

For me it is an unusual combination to use the present simple (forgets) and then the present perfect in newspaper headlines. The first is used to keep headlines short; however, in this case it doesn't make sense as it is followed by the longer present perfect construction.

The last thing is that I am not sure whether it is possible to switch tenses whenever I want. I´ll give you an example:


Federer beats Djokovic in the 2nd round

The article

Federer has been beaten by Djokovic for the third consecutive time and will not defend his Wimbledon crown. Djokovic beats him easily and didn't allow him any break.

The thing I am not sure about is whether journalists can switch from one tense to another, see the following example: "Djokovic beats.." or whether it is acceptable to do so only in the headlines?

  • 4
    related: Why is the present perfect used in headlines? – Mari-Lou A Nov 29 '15 at 12:19
  • Newspapers take considerable licence in the way they compose headlines. One requirement is to economise on words - so often they do not make grammatical sense.The simple present for something that has just happened is perfectly idiomatic anyway, in the context of a news report, especially a headline. – WS2 Nov 29 '15 at 12:43
  • After looking for the sources, none of them seem to me particularly reputable. The first has a number of other problems which puzzle me much more e.g. "on the Foto..." And I wouldn't call either of them newspaper articles, these are "news" written on the fly, with little pre-thought or reflection. The second "headline" is a tweet. – Mari-Lou A Nov 29 '15 at 12:44
  • @Mari-LouA Thanks Mari-Lou A - I don´t get it. Is it possible to use present perfect in the second example? Can I use present perfect when I am writing a headline - in combination with present simple? In the first example - can I take it the way that past simple "claimed" was used because of headline? Or is it situated too far that it can be considered to be a headline? – TH92 Nov 29 '15 at 19:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.