(I've checked this link, but didn't get what I want.)

  1. The first to strike is a sandstorm as blinding and deadly as any northern blizzard.

  2. The first that strikes is a sandstorm as blinding and deadly as any northern blizzard.

(The original sentence is the one 'to' in it, and the other is made up by me, so there might be any grammatical issue.)

What's the difference here? And I've seen so many times that the news papers usually use "noun + to + verb" sentences, such as "President Donald Trump to visit Iowa in June". It seems to me like the sentence is not finished. Why didn't they put that like "President Donald Trump who is going to visit Iowa in June", or just "President Donald Trump will visit Iowa in June"?

2 Answers 2


President Donald Trump to visit Iowa.

is simply a short form of

President Donald Trump is going to visit Iowa


President Donald Trump is expected to visit Iowa

with the omitted words implied and understood. Note that in news stories, particularly in headlines, brevity is particularly desired, and so customary omissions have developed which are often, perhaps almost invariably, used in such a context. Understanding the implied but omitted words makes headlines much clearer.


The first to strike is a sandstorm ...

is equivalent to

The first thing to strike is a sandstorm ...

One could write:

The first thing that strikes is a sandstorm ...

but here "thing" is not so obvious, and so in my view should not be omitted.

The two forms are significantly different, and it is not safe to reason from one to the other. The word "to" can be used in many many different constructs in English, and many have their own usual forms or customs.

  • Thanks, so, is it okay for me to understand that like the "The first to strike" is actually "The first thing which is expected to strike" or "The first thing which is supposed to strike" or "The first thing which tends to strike" or something similar structures in many different ways?
    – dolco
    Jun 1, 2019 at 11:32
  • Would you please be nice and answer my comment?
    – dolco
    Jun 1, 2019 at 14:52
  • 1
    @dolco Yes, your understanding of "the first to strike" is generally correct. That is a commonly used phrase, almost set phrase, meaning the first thing to be encountered or to come alon g. "strike" tends to suggest a violent or dangerous sort of encounter. One could also write "The first impact will come from..." with much the same meaning. Jun 1, 2019 at 15:00
  • I do wish that the downvoter would indicate a reason for the dowvote. If there is a problem with this answer, i don't see it. If I were informed what someone else sees as a problem, I might be able to improve the answer. Jun 1, 2019 at 16:48

Your embedded question (involving sentences like "Trump to visit Iowa in June") are examples of "journalese"—a writing style that is featured in news writing and, especially, headlines, where it is sometimes called "headlinese."

Native readers of such a headline will complete it mentally in a heartbeat, but you may be able to understand it better by unpacking it, which involves adding a word or two:

Trump to visit Iowa.

becomes →

Trump is to visit Iowa.

becomes →

Trump is going to visit Iowa.

I wish to stress that the original sentence is fine as it is, and comprehensible—as are the other two—and that the additional words add nothing that changes the meaning. They all mean exactly the same thing, except that the first carries with it the flavor of a news headline. Which it is.

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