Explaining cultural differences modals verbs practice

Market Leader Intermediate Unit 7

Choose one of the topics below and work together to explain the rules of doing that thing in your country in a way that a foreign person with no special knowledge of your country would understand, contrasting with other countries if you can.  

Useful language for talking about rules


You should…

You need to…

You must…

You have to…

Negative obligation

You shouldn’t…

You mustn’t…

No obligation

You don’t need to…/ There is no need to…

You don’t have to…

It’s isn’t necessary to…                                                                   (but you can if you want to).



  • Apologising/ Responding to apologies
  • Asking for payment
  • Asking for permission to do something
  • Complaining/ Dealing with complaints
  • Dealing with communication problems (not understanding people, etc)
  • Ending conversations
  • Getting people’s attention
  • Giving bad news
  • Giving opinions/ Agreeing/ Disagreeing
  • Greetings
  • Interrupting/ Turn taking
  • Introducing yourself/ Introducing other people
  • Inviting/ Accepting invitations/ Turning down invitations (= refusing)
  • Meeting people for the first time/ Meeting people again
  • Offering/ Being hospitable/ Responding to offers
  • Requesting/ Responding to requests
  • Responding to people’s good news/ Congratulating
  • Responding to people’s bad news/ Sympathizing/ Commiserating
  • Small talk
  • Socialising/ Entertaining
  • Starting conversations
  • Thanking/ Responding to thanks
  • Toasting
  • Active listening (= not just listening in silence)

Other topics

  • Emailing
  • Presentations
  • Business meetings
  • Body language and gestures (bowing, bodily contact, eye contact, etc)
  • Business cards
  • Clothes, accessories and appearance
  • Conversation topics (taboo topics, etc)
  • Decision making
  • Festivals and celebrations
  • Food and drink (table manners, drinking, etc)
  • Gift giving
  • Hierarchy/ Relations between managers and staff
  • Humour
  • Relationships (between men and women, etc)
  • Religion and superstitions (things which are bad luck, etc)
  • Use of names and titles (first name, family name, full name, etc)

Ask about anything above which you aren’t sure about.


Without looking above, answer the grammar questions below:

– What’s the difference between “You don’t have to” and “You mustn’t…”? Which one is more similar to “You shouldn’t…” and which is similar to “There is no need to… (but you can if you want to)”?

– What’s the (small) difference between “You must…” and “You have to…”?

Match these expressions to the functions on the previous page. Sometimes the answer is just part of what is written on one of those lines, e.g. just one kind of response.

  • I would be very grateful if you could…/ Can you…?/ Could you (possibly)…?
  • It’s on me./ Make yourself at home./ Please go ahead./ After you./ Help yourself.
  • That’s a pity./ That’s a shame./ That’s bad luck!/ I’m sorry to hear that.
  • Here’s to (thing that you want to be successful)./ Bottoms up!/ Cheers!
  • I envy you!/ Congratulations!/ Well done!/ Wow! That’s great news.
  • Excuse me./ Can I have your attention, please?
  • Well, it was really nice talking to you, but I have another meeting in ten minutes.
  • I’d love to, but…/ I would have loved to, but…/ That sounds great, but unfortunately…
  • I’m afraid…/ I’m sorry, but…/ We regret to inform you that…
  • Not at all./ You’re welcome./ It was really no problem (at all)./ It was my pleasure.
  • Sorry, I didn’t catch…/ Can you say that again?/ Can you repeat the last part?
  • I’d like to apologise for…/ Sorry.
  • That sounds great./ I’d love to.
  • That’s no problem./ Don’t worry about it./ It (really) doesn’t matter.
  • This is (name)./ Have you met…?
  • Yes, please.

What’s the difference between the phrases on each line below?

  • Yes, please. – Please go ahead.
  • Can you + verb?/ Please + verb
  • Sorry for…/ I’m afraid…/ Excuse me./ Pardon.


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Related pages

Modals of obligation etc page

Cultural training page

Market Leader Intermediate Unit 7 page