I read in a newspaper the following heading:

  • “Trump’s Threat To Cut Aid to Countries” = The US reduces its help…

  • Then I found in a dictionary: “Cuts aid rebels.” = The reduction is helping the revolutionaries.

Why is there a difference between “Cut Aid to Countries” and “Cuts aid rebels?”

  • Reducing help to one person may easily help someone else (especially if said someone else is at odd with whoever was being helped). I'd say, in the second phrase, whatever got cut (or reduced) was not to the rebels' benefits, and probably whatever help it was was not aimed at them but whoever they were rebelling against. – Megha Dec 25 '17 at 7:06

Those are actually very different phrases. The first phrase is using "cut" as a verb, meaning essentially to get rid of something - and using "aid" as a noun indicating essentially money. The second phrase uses "Cuts" as a plural noun indicating something that has essentially been gotten rid of, and uses "aid" as a VERB indicating that the plural noun (cuts) were helping the rebels.

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    For me it's helpful to change "cut" to "reduce" and you get the following: Trump's Threat to Reduce Aid to Countries... Reductions aid rebels... – barbecue Dec 25 '17 at 17:18

I suspect that aid was only reduced to the incumbent rulers of the country. Often when a country's government loses a source of revenue it must reduce goods and services it had previously provided its people, likely resulting in citizen dissatisfaction. A rebel faction may well draw support from dissatisfied citizens now willing to support the rebels' cause. In some cases military aid is cut with the result that loyalist forces are weakened by the lack of transport, munitions, or funds to pay soldiers, all to the benefit of rebel forces.

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    This doesn't really seem to address the English language question. – barbecue Dec 25 '17 at 17:19
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    Yep, I too quickly assumed it was a question of meaning when it was actually a question about a verb and its substantive noun. Thanks for reminding me to read more carefully. – Allen S. Dec 25 '17 at 17:53

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