4

I saw the sentence like

Donald Trump to run for president next month.

in the newspaper on the internet.

But I don't know why we have to use to instead of will.

Is there any rule I don't know?

Can anyone tell me the reason why we should use to in the news?

  • 2
    They didn't have to use "to", it was a stylistic choice. – Peter Jun 11 '17 at 5:14
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    It's just 'journalese' for Donald Trump (intends) to run for president next month. – BillJ Jun 11 '17 at 7:33
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With the future, the infinitive form expresses intention whereas will + <VERB> can express either an intention or the inevitable.

Consider this scenario:

Thousands of scientists worldwide agree that the polar ice cap will melt, based on their careful observations, unless measures are taken to dramatically reduce emissions of so-called greenhouse gases.

How might the headline read?

POLAR ICE-CAP TO MELT

POLAR ICE-CAP WILL MELT

Does the polar-ice cap intend to melt? No. So the verb would be will.

But let's say a government plans to cut the budget of its environmental watchdog agency. That is their intention.

GOVT TO CUT BUDGET OF ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY

GOVT WILL CUT BUDGET OF ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY

There, the choice is less clear. Probably the infinitive, but not necessarily.

5

Hard to say definitively without seeing the article in question, but often a newspaper headline will use the "to" phrasing as an abbreviation for "set to" or "plans to" or something similar. This is not something specific to news, per se, but rather indicates a slightly different meaning than will.

In this particular case, I'd guess that the headline is a shorter version of "Donald Trump plans to run for president next month." It's likely that if you compare the date of publication against the date Donald Trump either a) publicly announced his intention to run for president or b) filed the official paperwork necessary to run for president, you'll find that the article was published before either of those things happened.

Likely, the reporter writing the article had a source telling them that Donald Trump was planning to run for president, but Trump did not tell the reporter himself that he was going to run, nor did Trump make any sort of formal announcement that he would run, so the reporter did not want to say "will" because "will" would imply a certainty that the reporter did not have.

Alternatively, if the reporter did know for certain that Trump was planning to run for president, the use of "to" instead of "will" could simply be a style choice meant to keep the headline in present tense instead of future tense. Even with confirmation that something is officially set to happen, newspapers are still typically hesitant to use a "will happen" type of phrasing because you never know what could happen in the future. They simply report what the case is at the time of publication.

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    Also, to is two letters shorter than will, which often matters more in headlines than subtlety of meaning. – 1006a Jun 11 '17 at 6:14
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    I considered that, but I think most editors/writers are going to pick the most correct phrasing over the strictly shorter phrasing except in the unlikely event that the headline would wrap to another line if the extra two characters were included. And even then, that's probably only in a print scenario. OP indicated he read this online; it might not have even been printed. – cjl750 Jun 11 '17 at 6:17
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    @cjl750 In some languages (for example French) headlines usually do follow "correct" grammar, otherwise they would be incomprehensible. But in British newspapers at least, the graphic design of the page takes priority, and headlines often include puns. An example from yesterday's Financial Times, which is certainly at the "serious" end of the newspaper market: "Dixons Carphone and Sprint hang up on US joint venture." (The companies market cellphones, hence "hang up") Headline writing is a specialist job in the UK newspaper industry, and papers like the Sun are famous (or infamous) for it. – alephzero Jun 11 '17 at 7:54
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    ... for example the Sun's front page headline before the EU referendum: "Beleave in Britain." And the report of the capture of Osama Bin Laden had front page headline "Bin Bagged". – alephzero Jun 11 '17 at 8:04

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