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American customs


Study the words and expressions


to be on time – быть вовремя

to miss an appointment – пропустить назначенную встречу

in advance – заранее

to be on a diet – быть на диете

you would rather not – вы бы не предпочли

explanation – объяснение

customary – привычный

whatever – какой бы ни, что бы ни

occasion – случай

to make arrangements – запланировать, заранее договориться

abbreviate – сокращать

give up – бросить (привычку)

turn over a new leaf – начать новую жизнь

resolution – решение

promise – обещание

to improve - улучшить


A Read the text and answer these questions. Take no notice of the gaps.

1 Are American customs different from English ones?

2 What are the customs you like most?


[ 1 - ] It’s important to be on time at business, social and public events. If you must miss an appointment for any reason, telephone ahead to the person you were supposed to meet, saying that you won’t be able to come.

When you are invited to a home where food will be served, it is best to let your host or hostess know in advance if you are on a diet. [ 2 - ] No further explanation is needed, but if you would like to explain, people are interested.

[ 3 - ] In others it is informal and you may sit in the kitchen table to eat dinner. Informality is a way of taking you into the warmth of the family circle.

[ 4 - ] When you are at a party you may be walking from one sitting-room to another, talking to the guests with a glass of wine in your hand. Food is served in one of the rooms and you can help yourself to whatever you like and whenever you like.

The Americans may have a party on one occasion in several houses at a time. The party starts in one house where they have some light wine and snacks, and then move on to another house, taking drinks and food with them; and previous arrangements are made about what food each family cooks. Normally three or four families are involved. [ 5 - ]

Generally Americans tend to be fairly informal. They often (but not always) address each other by their given names on first meetings. They also tend to abbreviate a lot. For example, Mass. Ave means Massachusetts Avenue. [ 6 - ]

New Year’s Day has traditionally been the occasion for starting new programs and giving up bad habits. [ 7 - ] Many Americans make New Year’s resolutions, promising themselves and their families to improve their behaviour. Typical New Year’s resolutions are to spend less money, give up smoking, begin a diet, or control one’s temper. To Americans the closing of one calendar year and the opening of another is a serious, yet happy occasion.


B Now read the missing sentences a – h and choose the one which best fits

each gap [ 1 – 7 ]. There is one extra sentence which you do not need.


a It is all right, however, to say, ‘No, thank you, ’ if you would rather not

eat or drink what is being served.

b Such a party is called progressive dinner.

c People talk about ‘turning over a new leaf’.

d Americans are very punctual.

e In some homes the atmosphere is quite formal.

f It is not always customary to sit at dinner table as we do in Russia.

g Others are too busy – they are swimming, sunbathing or sailing.

h Do not be surprised and ask what these abbreviations mean.


C Match these words and phrases from the text 1-8 with their meanings in a-i.


1 in advance a to become better

2 to miss an appointment b telling someone to take as much food

or drink as he wants

3 customary c a promise that you make to yourself

4 help yourself d something that has been agreed on


5 arrangements e normal

6 resolution f did not go to meet someone


7 abbreviation g before something happens

8 to improve i the short form of a word



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