Getting Mixed Up About Mixed Conditionals

  Conditionals are challenging for students and for teachers. When I decided to cover this grammar topic on YouTube back in 2017, I knew a whole playlist was in order. (View lessons.) I needed more than a dozen lessons to feel like I covered all the bases. To be truthful, I think there’s still more…

‘If Need Be’ and Other More Formal Uses of Conditionals

Conditionals are a topic I’ve addressed multiple times on my YouTube channel, and I plan to return to them again soon. Just a few more lessons, and I think I’ll have covered conditionals quite thoroughly. Do you also feel that it takes several lessons and plenty of practice to do justice to this topic? I…

Easily Confused Conditionals

I plan to add a new lesson to my YouTube playlist on conditionals. Once students feel comfortable using if, I like to address doubts over additional forms, such as the easily confused words even if, only if, and unless. In another post, I targeted even if vs. even though. It’s true that structures sharing at least one word already look…

If We Could Turn Back Time

Oops! Look at all those broken eggs! …Well, if they hadn’t stacked the cartons so high, this wouldn’t have happened. Right? And if shoppers didn’t have to open each carton to check for broken eggs, they could just take a carton from the top. A good photo can prompt a number of conditional sentences, especially…

In Case of an Emergency: An activity to practice real conditionals

Test students’ ability to give instructions and advice using conditional sentences. Step 1 – Look at the list below. Read out one conditional sentence at a time. Students will listen and identify the situation based on the instruction/ piece of advice. Do the first item together as a model. Advanced stdudents should be able to identify the…

What If…? Taking a Lesson on Conditionals to the Next Level

Target Grammar: what if, even if, as if, only if, if only, if not, if so, if anything, if necessary, if and when. Step 1 – Write the combinations with “if” on the board in a single column. Present a series of cloze statements and ask the class to idenfy the best choice to complete…

Highlights, Lowlights: An activity to review and practice conditionals

Since the clarity of conditionals largely depends on the use of appropriate verb tenses, it makes sense to teach them as we would verb tenses. That is, we first present conditionals in isolation, one structure at a time, making sure students understand what the components are and what meaning the structure conveys as a whole….

TESOL – 2010 – Grammar Highlights

Yes, there’s still more to write about last week’s TESOL Convention in Boston. How could there not be when each day was full of workshops, presentations, demonstrations, planned meetings, and – my favorite – chance meetings. I love learning about grammar and ways of teaching grammar, so I made certain I caught a few sessions…

Help from Horoscopes: 3 Classroom Ideas

Horoscopes, with their predictions and advice, lend themselves to a number of classroom activities. Even the names of the twelve zodiac signs can be the basis for meaningful language practice. You can find many sites that publish daily horoscopes, or you can find printed them in printed sources like entertainment magazines. Here are three suggestions…

Student Stumper 4: Perfect Modals in Reported Speech

QUESTION: The book says we never change should and could in reported speech. Is that true? ANSWER: As I was preparing a lesson on modals and conditionals in reported speech, I came across an old online thread about changing what most grammar sources claim is unchangeable. An English language learner reasoned that in reported speech…

If You Want to Mix it Up: Using Conditional Statements

(Originally published in my book Brainstorming. Moscow: Manager, 2001. This is an updated version.)   As with verb tenses, it’s helpful to present one kind of conditional statement at a time (i.e., first, second, third, and mixed conditionals). However, after students demonstrate an understanding of each type, we must then test their ability to use…