Reshad Jamil Reshad Jamil

Grammar lesson on the third conditional
Upper-intermediate level


In this lesson, students learn the third conditional, where the tense in the "if" clause is past perfect (had/have) and the tense in the main clause is either the perfect conditional or the perfect continuous conditional (would have/would have been). In the lead-in, students analyze pictures and guess what happened, then the teacher introduces the third conditional by asking questions. The teacher exposes students to the third conditional in greater depth using an audio clip. In the next stage, the teacher clarifies the third conditional's MFP by looking at specific sentence examples. In the controlled and freer practice tasks (gap-fill, then writing and speaking), students practice using the third conditional.


Main Aims

  • To provide students a thorough clarification of the third conditional in the context of two stories about potential/actual gun violence, and subsequently give them opportunities to use the third conditional.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To enable students to develop their listening skills (for gist and details) by listening to an audio clip about incidents involving guns.
  • To provide students an opportunity to write and speak using the third conditional.


Lead-in (3-4 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

T shows Ss a big picture on the first slide. In the picture, an old lady is holding a gun in one hand and her purse in the other. She is in a parking lot outside a superstore. Her gun is pointed at some men who are running away from her. This is the main incident in a story which the students will soon learn about. In the top-left corner of the picture, there is a city name and a made-up date of occurrence. T first asks Ss: Is this a past, present, or future event? (Past) Then T instructs Ss to discuss what they think happened in the incident (as an entire class). T mutes himself and stops his video. Ss discuss for 1 min. T collects Ss' attention, hears Ss' theories, then asks one question (to confirm): Do you think the lady shot the men? (Yes/No) After building enough interest in Ss, T reveals a truth, namely, what really happened in the incident, so he can then meaningfully introduce the target grammar (the third conditional). In response to the last question above, T tells Ss that the lady didn't shoot the men. On the next slide, T reiterates that she didn't shoot the men. Then, T asks Ss to imagine and answer the following: 1. What if she had shot the men? What do you think would have happened to her? 2. So, if she had shot the men, she ______________________. (would have been in trouble) Then T asks what this grammatical structure is called? (Third conditional) Ss now have a context (the incident) and know the target grammar.

Exposure (6-7 minutes) • To provide context for the target language through an audio clip

T tells Ss that they will now listen to an audio clip in which three friends have a conversation. They talk about two stories, the first of which is about the old lady with a gun in the parking lot. This is to ensure Ss have stage transition awareness. T explains to Ss that as they listen, they must complete the following tasks: 1. Know what actually happened in each story. In the first story… a) What actually happened? b) Were the men innocent? c) What did the old lady do? In the second story… a) What actually happened? b) What does Chuck say he might’ve done? 2. Listen closely for sentences that use the third conditional (if clause + main clause). T instructs Ss to complete task 1 first, and tells them they will listen to the clip a second time for task 2. T instructs Ss to work together as an entire class. Ss share their answers for task 1 with T. This ensures everyone is on the same page and knows what happened in each story. Ss just need to provide a gist of what happened in each. T then initiates task 2. T plays the audio clip a second time and scaffolds as necessary to help students identify each third conditional sentence. T frequently asks, "Did you catch that?" As Ss provide each sentence, T moves the black box on the slide further down to uncover and confirm each answer.

Clarification (7-9 minutes) • To clarify the meaning, form and pronunciation of the target language (grammar; the third conditional)

T shows the five third conditional sentences which the Ss identified in the audio clip: Sentence 1 But if she’d shot the men, she’d have been in serious trouble. Sentence 2 If the men hadn’t run away, she could’ve killed them! Sentence 3 Well, I wouldn’t have been too happy if the alarm had woken me up. Sentence 4 If it’d been me I might’ve left a note on the car or something. Sentence 5 And what would he have done if he’d actually seen the owner of the car? T asks: Which three sentences are most similar? (1, 3, and 5; all use 'would') T focuses on these three sentences first. T clarifies the meaning of the third conditional using these three sentences. T asks four questions to adequately clarify the meaning: 1. Are any of these scenarios real? Did any of them actually happen? (No) 2. In each sentence, what is the speaker doing? (b) a) describing a real situation b) imagining a hypothetical* situation c) predicting the future 3. Can any of these situations happen anymore? Why or why not? (No; you can't change the past) 4. So, we use the third conditional to talk about (real / imaginary) situations in the (present / past). (imaginary; past) T then shifts the focus to form: What are the two correct forms? (a and c) a) Subject + would/wouldn’t have + past participle + if + subject + past perfect verb b) Subject + would/wouldn’t + past participle + if + subject + past participle c) If + subject + past perfect verb, subject + would/wouldn’t have + past participle Before asking this question, T make sure Ss know what the past perfect verb is (had + past participle). Next, T returns to sentences 2 and 4, which use 'could' and 'might' respectively. To check if Ss know or notice the sameness in essential meaning (with the 'would' sentences), T asks the same questions as before, only more simplified this time: 1. Are these scenarios real (they happened) or imaginary? (imaginary) 2. In each sentence, what is the speaker doing? (b) a) thinking of a past event b) imagining a hypothetical (imaginary) situation 3. Can any of these events happen anymore? Are they impossible? (No; yes) Hopefully, by answering these same questions a second time, but this time for sentences that use 'could' and 'might,' Ss will simultaneously register the meaning of the third conditional alongside the similarity between the three modal verbs. T asks about form again, but now a slight different question: Are both these forms correct? (yes) a) Subject + might (or could) have + past participle + if + subject + past perfect verb c) If + subject + past perfect verb, subject + might (or could) have + past participle A follow-up question: Are these forms the same as the forms with would? (yes, only instead of 'would' there is either 'could' or 'might') On the next slide, T displays the full forms of the third conditional which the Ss confirmed: 1. Subject + would (or might or could) have + past participle + if + subject + past perfect verb 2. If + subject + past perfect verb, subject + would (or might or could) have + past participle The clauses in each form are labeled (clause a, clause b). For each form, T asks: Which clause is the condition and which is the result? T then asks: What kind of verbs are would, could, and might? (modal verbs) T then goes back to slide 5 which contains all five example sentences. T clarifies pronunciation of the target language. T reads/models each sentence in a natural manner and conducts choral drilling. T asks the following for each sentence: Which words are stressed? Does my tone rise, fall, or stay the same?

Controlled Practice (6-8 minutes) • To concept check and prepare students for more meaningful practice

T ensures Ss have stage transition awareness. T explains: Now that you know the MFP of the third conditional, you need to practice using it. T instructs Ss to do a gap-fill exercise. T instructs Ss to work individually first. T may demonstrate by completing the first sentence. T asks quick ICQs. Ss work individually for 5 min. T puts Ss in BORs and instructs them (beforehand in the main room) to compare their answers. OCFB: T brings everyone back to the main room and goes over the answers.

Free Practice (8-10 minutes) • To provide students with free practice of the target language

T instructs Ss to write and share their own third conditional sentences (T provides examples on the slide under each instruction): 1. Make notes on four interesting things that have happened in your life. Write them in the order they happened. 2011 - passed my law exams 2012 - met Marek when I was on holiday 2. Make third conditional sentences to describe how life would have been different if these things hadn't happened. If I'd failed my law exams, I might have become a teacher. 3. Work in pairs. Take turns to tell each other about the things you wrote in. Ask follow-up questions if possible. In 2011, I passed my law exams. If I'd failed my law exams, I might have become a teacher. T instructs Ss to complete parts 1 and 2 first. Then, T puts students in BORs and Ss take turns sharing their third conditional sentences.

Feedback (3-4 minutes) • To elicit and provide corrections to any errors made in the freer practice task

T conducts Delayed Error Correction (DEC) on certain errors Ss made during the freer practice task. T tries to elicit corrections from Ss before providing them. T says goodbye to Ss and ends the lesson.

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