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Expressing Doubt in AmericanExpressing Doubt in American
CultureCulture
How to do this directly and indirectly
Difference of opinionDifference of opinion
Americans use modals to
express a difference of
opinion in a respectful
manner. It is important to
notice that modals are
frequently used to express
sensitive emotions such as
disbelief or fear or
shyness as well as
uncertainty about a future
action. In the following
dialogue, Sue and Sarah
discuss Sarah’s idea about
baking a blueberry cheese
cake for Liu Yang. Notice
how they use modals to
express their differing
opinions about the idea.
Also notice how Sue uses,
If I were you, to signal
that she is giving a
different opinion in a
respectful way.
Dialogue OneDialogue One (Sarah is talking about(Sarah is talking about
her new Chinese roommate with Sue - aher new Chinese roommate with Sue - a
Chinese American friend)Chinese American friend)
SARAH: I think we’ll be
fine. - but just to be
sure, I’m going to bake
my Mom’s special
blackberry cream
cheese pie.
SUE: I would
probably go with
something different
than a cream cheese pie.
SARAH: What do you
mean? I really like this
pie, and you always
liked it too.
SUE: Yes, you and I
like the pie. But your
new Chinese roommate
might not. Different
cultures have different
tastes you know.
SARAH: Yes of course
I know. I’ve eaten your
mother’s great Chinese
food. And it does taste
different than my
mother’s food, but its
still good.
Dialogue OneDialogue One (Sarah is talking about(Sarah is talking about
her new Chinese roommate with Sue - aher new Chinese roommate with Sue - a
Chinese American friend)Chinese American friend)
SUE: If I were you, I
would try to prepare
something different - just
in case she doesn’t like
cheese or blackberries.
SARAH: Well maybe
you’re right. Maybe I
should get some fruit too.
SUE: I don’t think you
could go wrong with fruit.
In the following dialogue,
modals are used to
express disbelief. In this
dialogue, Sue comes
home from university
classes and visits with her
mother (who was born in
China) who is preparing
dinner. Sue tells her
mother, Lili, about Sarah’s
idea to prepare a
blueberry cheese cake for
her new Chinese
roommate.
Dialogue Two: ExpressingDialogue Two: Expressing
DisbeliefDisbelief
SUE: Hi Mom. What’s
for dinner?
LILI: Noodles with beef
and I’m preparing some
cabbage with pork for
your father.
SUE: Um sounds
delicious. Speaking of
food, you’ll never guess
what Sarah is preparing
for her new Chinese
roommate.
LILI: Knowing Sarah as I
do, nothing would surprise
me. What did she tell you
she was going to prepare?
SUE: I couldn’t believe my
ears when she said that she
was making a blackberry
cream cheese pie!
LILI: You’re not serious?
Surely she remembers that
Chinese don’t eat creams
and cheeses as much as
Americans do.
Dialogue Two: ExpressingDialogue Two: Expressing
DisbeliefDisbelief
SUE: She must have
forgotten.
LILI: Well, I’m sure she
will do her best to try and
make her new roommate
feel welcome.
In the previous dialogue,
modals are used to show
disbelief. There are
several other ways to
show disbelief, including
the expression, “You’re not
serious?” that Lili uses in
the previous dialogue.
Some other expressions
for expressing disbelief
include, “You’ve got to be
kidding”, “Get out of here”
and simply the word, “No”.
ModalsModals
Modals can
also be used
for
encouragement
as in the
following
dialogue.
Vanessa: I would like
to be a lawyer, but I’m
not smart enough.
Mike: Sure you could
- you just have to
believe in yourself.
ActivityActivity
In your groups, write and perform a brief dialogue
in which you
1. Express doubt using the word “no”
2.Express doubt using the expression “ you’re
kidding”
3.Express doubt using the expression “get out of
here”
4.Express encouragement using a modal
5. Express doubt using “If I were you”

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Expressing doubt in American culture

  • 1. Expressing Doubt in AmericanExpressing Doubt in American CultureCulture How to do this directly and indirectly
  • 2. Difference of opinionDifference of opinion Americans use modals to express a difference of opinion in a respectful manner. It is important to notice that modals are frequently used to express sensitive emotions such as disbelief or fear or shyness as well as uncertainty about a future action. In the following dialogue, Sue and Sarah discuss Sarah’s idea about baking a blueberry cheese cake for Liu Yang. Notice how they use modals to express their differing opinions about the idea. Also notice how Sue uses, If I were you, to signal that she is giving a different opinion in a respectful way.
  • 3. Dialogue OneDialogue One (Sarah is talking about(Sarah is talking about her new Chinese roommate with Sue - aher new Chinese roommate with Sue - a Chinese American friend)Chinese American friend) SARAH: I think we’ll be fine. - but just to be sure, I’m going to bake my Mom’s special blackberry cream cheese pie. SUE: I would probably go with something different than a cream cheese pie. SARAH: What do you mean? I really like this pie, and you always liked it too. SUE: Yes, you and I like the pie. But your new Chinese roommate might not. Different cultures have different tastes you know. SARAH: Yes of course I know. I’ve eaten your mother’s great Chinese food. And it does taste different than my mother’s food, but its still good.
  • 4. Dialogue OneDialogue One (Sarah is talking about(Sarah is talking about her new Chinese roommate with Sue - aher new Chinese roommate with Sue - a Chinese American friend)Chinese American friend) SUE: If I were you, I would try to prepare something different - just in case she doesn’t like cheese or blackberries. SARAH: Well maybe you’re right. Maybe I should get some fruit too. SUE: I don’t think you could go wrong with fruit. In the following dialogue, modals are used to express disbelief. In this dialogue, Sue comes home from university classes and visits with her mother (who was born in China) who is preparing dinner. Sue tells her mother, Lili, about Sarah’s idea to prepare a blueberry cheese cake for her new Chinese roommate.
  • 5. Dialogue Two: ExpressingDialogue Two: Expressing DisbeliefDisbelief SUE: Hi Mom. What’s for dinner? LILI: Noodles with beef and I’m preparing some cabbage with pork for your father. SUE: Um sounds delicious. Speaking of food, you’ll never guess what Sarah is preparing for her new Chinese roommate. LILI: Knowing Sarah as I do, nothing would surprise me. What did she tell you she was going to prepare? SUE: I couldn’t believe my ears when she said that she was making a blackberry cream cheese pie! LILI: You’re not serious? Surely she remembers that Chinese don’t eat creams and cheeses as much as Americans do.
  • 6. Dialogue Two: ExpressingDialogue Two: Expressing DisbeliefDisbelief SUE: She must have forgotten. LILI: Well, I’m sure she will do her best to try and make her new roommate feel welcome. In the previous dialogue, modals are used to show disbelief. There are several other ways to show disbelief, including the expression, “You’re not serious?” that Lili uses in the previous dialogue. Some other expressions for expressing disbelief include, “You’ve got to be kidding”, “Get out of here” and simply the word, “No”.
  • 7. ModalsModals Modals can also be used for encouragement as in the following dialogue. Vanessa: I would like to be a lawyer, but I’m not smart enough. Mike: Sure you could - you just have to believe in yourself.
  • 8. ActivityActivity In your groups, write and perform a brief dialogue in which you 1. Express doubt using the word “no” 2.Express doubt using the expression “ you’re kidding” 3.Express doubt using the expression “get out of here” 4.Express encouragement using a modal 5. Express doubt using “If I were you”