Nancy was taking the next flight to Paris so she had to cut short the interview.

Would you explain the following phrase?

Had to cut short the interview.


She was obliged to make the interview shorter than expected.

  • had to is the idiom have to cast in the past tense. Have to has the same meaning as must = “be obliged to, be required to”, and has slowly been replacing must over the past two hundred years. It is a much more flexible construction because unlike must, which has only one form, have has a full complement of finite non-finite forms: present, past, infinitive, present participle and past participle.

  • cut short is a literal expression employed figuratively: she ‘cut’ the interview off before the appointed time, so it was shorter than planned.

  • In a little more detail, to cut something short is to end it before the ideal, scheduled or planned time. – David Richerby Mar 18 '14 at 3:33

What this means is that Nancy was on a tight schedule for her flight, she would have missed her flight if she wasn't quick enough.

Had to cut short the interview means that due to her busy schedule, she had to make sure that the interview didn't take too long or that the interview was cut short (in terms of time) as otherwise she would have missed her flight.

  • 4
    Cut (transitive verb) + short (object complement) + interview (object) We usually write it like this, "cut the interview short" – JayHook Mar 17 '14 at 14:43
  • 2
    "Cut short the interview" versus "Cut the interview short"; absolutely no difference in usage, completely interchangeable, both sound correct to me. (American perspective) But I'm no expert, though. – D_Bester Mar 18 '14 at 12:01

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