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The author of the book I am reading uses this phrase number of times.

Watching in shock the reports of Kennedy's murder would cut to working with our government on predicting and preventing such attacks.

Visiting my mother in a psychiatric ward after one of her suicide attempts would cut to touring mental hospitals as an adviser to the governor of California.

I am wondering what an appropriate synonym for cut would be. Perhaps make or create?

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    These sentences seem ill-formed. It seems like you or the author is trying to use "cut to" in the film-making sense of "make a discontinuous leap to another shot". Is this right? – GoldenGremlin Jul 20 '15 at 21:24
  • These sentences are not well-formed. Just to confirm, are you typing them exactly as the author put them in print? If so, the author may not be able to handle the English language well. – New Alexandria Jul 20 '15 at 21:41
  • I just did make sure my type was okay as excerpt from the book. – teizoartjewelry Jul 20 '15 at 21:44
  • What are the title and subject of the book? – phoog Jul 20 '15 at 21:49
  • "The gift of fear" GAVIN DE BECKER – teizoartjewelry Jul 20 '15 at 21:53
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To cut to something is slang for making an abrupt change.

This usage is borrowed from film and television, where a cut, among other things, is a direct transition from one piece of film to another. Literally, a piece of film would be cut, then attached to another piece, for example, to show the same scene from a different angle as recorded on a different camera, or to introduce a new scene.

The author seems to be indicating that one event proceeds directly to another event. Thus,

Watching in shock the reports of Kennedy's murder would cut to working with our government on predicting and preventing such attacks.

means that someone who was a witness to the murder went on immediately to work on preventing future such murders.

Personally, I find this phrasing awkward, though you have not presented enough context to make a judgment. Cut to indicates a transition, but not necessarily a progression; the author, on the other hand, seems to imply that one event led naturally to another. Instead of cut to, it might have been better to use precipitate, which carries both the sense of causation and of suddenness.

Watching in shock the reports of Kennedy's murder precipitated working with our government on predicting and preventing such attacks.

There are many other verbs indicating causation, like give rise to or lead to, but most do not carry a connotation of immediacy.

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It can be replaced with the word "lead." In the sense that a certain event will LEAD to another event.

Watching in shock the reports of Kennedy's murder would LEAD to working with our government on predicting and preventing such attacks.

Visiting my mother in a psychiatric ward after one of her suicide attempts would LEAD to touring mental hospitals as an adviser to the governor of California.

  • Do you think this phrases are grammatically all right? – teizoartjewelry Jul 20 '15 at 21:51
  • The first sentence should include a comma after "shock" >> "Watching in shock, the reports of Kennedy's murder..." And that would be all, grammar wise. – Ben Jul 20 '15 at 21:56
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    While I agree lead to would be better writing, I do not think it captures the full sense of cut to; as I note in my answer. – choster Jul 20 '15 at 22:08
  • If indeed the author meant "lead" when he wrote "cut" he was not using the word correctly. – Hot Licks Jul 20 '15 at 22:19
  • @Benjamin Commas are punctuation, not grammar. Besides, I don't think a comma should be added. The reports of Kennedy’s murder are the object of watching within the participial clause, not the subject of would cut to in the main clause; the adverbial phrase is just unusually placed. More straightforwardly: “[Someone] watching the reports of the Kennedy murder in shock would cut(/change/lead) to [them] working with our government on predicting and preventing such attacks”—two parallel participial clauses. A comma would imply that the reports were watching in shock—clearly not right. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 21 '15 at 7:33

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