From an article in The Financial Times

The technology, often so prescient it borders on creepy, has made Chinese counterparts very profitable too. Cue tougher scrutiny from a state intent on trust busting — and controlling citizens’s access to news and opinions.

Here the sentence starts with a verb. But calling it an imperative makes me feel confused. It seems not to refer to a situation where we want to tell someone to do something (most commonly for advice, suggestions, requests, commands, orders or instructions). So why does a writer use a sentence in this way?

1 Answer 1


The word cue has been borrowed from the world of theatre, film, television and dance.

A thing said or done that serves as a signal to an actor or other performer to enter or to begin their speech or performance.

In a rehearsal, when a theatre director calls, "Cue music!" s/he means, "That is the cue for the music to begin." The cue might be a certain line spoken by one of the actors. When the musicians hear those words being said, they should start playing.

So when Chinese counterparts become very profitable, that is the cue for tougher scrutiny from a state intent on trust busting — and controlling citizens' access to news and opinions.

In your sentence, "cue" is really an abbreviation for "That is the cue" ("That is the signal"). It is not an imperative. It is a statement that as soon as THAT happens, THIS happens. It often implies that the response was predictable.

This particular usage is an example of journalese. It isn't seen in more formal contexts.

The Prime Minister said, "We are increasing fuel prices." Cue angry shouts from the Opposition.

The head teacher said, "School is cancelled for the rest of the day." Cue cheers from the children.

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