During demonetization in India, I see a lot of "people are waiting patiently in the queues all over India at ATMs, banks, etc." and the English news channel is showing this news in their headlines as "People wait patiently in the queues." This is the context.

My questions are as follows

  1. I know that news headlines are in present simple for immediacy and progressive for changing events. In this case, it should be "People waiting patiently in the queues." Why is present simple "People wait patiently in the queues" used here?

  2. For news headlines, do the two sentences "People wait patiently in the queues" and "people waiting patiently in the queues" carry the same meaning?

  • 1
    I don't think your understanding is correct. There is no rule governing anything in headlines. In other words, they can write anything they see fit. If they don't have enough space, they will shorten the progressive tense to present tense or even leave out the verb entirely and there is nothing wrong with it. Closely related: Struggling to understand headlines that use ellipsis
    – Rathony
    Nov 19, 2016 at 8:52
  • Your question would be clearer if you carefully reviewed it and added the word “are” in all the places you mean to have it. “People wait patiently in the queues” and “people are waiting patiently in the queues” are sentences, but “people waiting patiently in the queues” is a noun phrase. Nov 20, 2016 at 22:33

1 Answer 1


Both forms can be used but have slightly different meanings. While the banks are open people are, actually, waiting in queues but a television report might be broadcast at any time, even when the Indian banks are closed. In this case there would be no queues at the time of the broadcast but the situation which causes people to form queues is still ongoing.

It would be inaccurate to say "people are waiting in queues" at 18:00 in the UK when the banks are closed (it being 23:30 in India) but it is perfectly accurate to say "people wait in queues" because they have done it earlier in the day and will do it when the banks are open for as long as the situation lasts.

In fact the simple present tense is used like this more generally: to say "Athletes compete in the Summer Olympics" is perfectly correct now, even though there will be no more Summer Olympics for them to compete in until 2020, because it refers to the Summer Olympics as a concept and an institution. However it would be incorrect to say "athletes are competing in the Summer Olympics" now since the 2016 Olympics are over.

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