Some one pointed to me that in this Star magazine from cover, the editor used the sentence "Why Tom let Katie win" instead of "Why did Tom let Katie win". Is it a correct form or is the grammatical quality of the magazine the same as its content quality?

The same goes for the question in the upper left corner in the blue circle "How much $$ she gets". If the use of "$$" instead of the word money is acceptable, is the sentence "How much money she gets" grammatically correct?

picture http://mscwne.wcdn.co.il/w/f-466/1312943-5.jpg

  • 1
    If it helps, you can think of these things as having an implied preface: "This magazine tells you about [X]."
    – Cameron
    Jul 11, 2012 at 16:59
  • These are not questions, but basically "headlines" for articles.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 21, 2015 at 11:53

4 Answers 4


You need to learn about Noun Clauses.

First, what you have in mind are Direct Questions:

"Why did Tom let Katie win?"

"How much $$ does she get?"

Now, try this short exercise: Practice constructing Indirect Questions a bit:

Do you know why Tom let Katie win?

Could you tell me how much $$ she gets?

In the examples above, you can see how your Direct Questions have now been transformed into Noun Clauses, by switching the V + S Question Pattern into the S + V Sentence Pattern.

Noun Clauses are being used on the cover of the magazine you cited.

  • 2
    In particular, Embedded Question Complement noun clauses. Jul 11, 2012 at 17:51
  • Precisely, John
    – Cool Elf
    Jul 11, 2012 at 17:58
  • 4
    The magazine is not asking questions. The referenced portions are statements. Not "Why did Tom let Katie win?" but rather "This is why Tom let Katie win."
    – horatio
    Jul 11, 2012 at 18:06
  • 1
    A Question is an interrogative main clause. An Embedded Question is a subordinate noun clause and is rarely interrogative. Don't confuse names and descriptions. Jul 11, 2012 at 18:12
  • Besides being good advice in this context, "Don't confuse names and descriptions" is good advice in almost any context. Jul 11, 2012 at 18:23

Actually, Why Tom let Katie win isn't a sentence, though it's grammatically correct. In fact, it's not even a question. It's just a fragment, which is common and acceptable for headlines.

You can clarify a little with an auxiliary: Why Tom did let Katie win. It's not a full sentence alone; it's sort of an abbreviated sentence:

This magazine will tell you why Tom let Katie win.


I think the sentence is perfectly correct. The verb let is irregular and has the same form both in the infinitive, the past simple and the past participle.

This sentence is a statement, and merely introduces the idea that in the magazine the reader will find out the reasons why Tom Cruise allowed his wife to have things her way.

The sentence that you indicate as an alternative would instead ask (rhetorically, perhaps) why Tom Cruise allowed his wife to have things her way.

Both sentences are grammatical, but they mean different things.

  • 4
    So if the magazine had an article that answers "Why did the chicken cross the road", they could write on the cover "Why the chicken crossed the road" as a statement?
    – SIMEL
    Jul 11, 2012 at 17:01
  • 5
    But only as a title. Titles don't have to be complete sentences; they're just names. And headlines for publications like these are particularly subject to Headlinese. Jul 11, 2012 at 17:23
  • 3
    @JohnLawler: Or teasers in a newscast, as in: "Why the chicken crossed the road – details at 11."
    – J.R.
    Jul 11, 2012 at 17:31

The cover of any publication has one purpose: to capture your interest and to get you to purchase. Space is a limited resource, and complete sentences are not to be expected. This is normal, and not limited to celebrity rags. For example, see the New York Times cover from the afternoon of 9/11.

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