Here is a grammar presentation and practice exercises for the third conditional for ESL teachers and students. You will find a free printable download of this lesson at the bottom of the page. The exercises don't have to all be done during the same lesson, but can be spread over a few consecutive lessons, which will help the students to remember the grammar point better long term.
These are things which are:
|If +||Past Perfect +||would have +||Past Participle|
|If||I hadn't studied, I||wouldn't have||passed the exam.|
|If||I had seen him, I||would have||told him.|
|If||she hadn't gone out, she||wouldn't have||got sick.|
|If||John hadn't been driving, he||wouldn't have||got a fine.|
If the result is not sure, we can use: Would Probably, Might Have or Could Have
|If||I had studied, I||might have||passed the exam.|
|If||I had seen him, I||could have||told him.|
|If||she hadn't gone out, she||probably wouldn't have||got sick.|
|Would(n't) have +||Past Participle +||if +||Past Perfect|
|I could have||passed the exam||if||I had studied.|
|I would have||told him||if||I had seen him.|
|She might have||gone to the party||if||she had known about it.|
|He wouldn't have||bought it, even||if||he had had the money.|
Sometimes the ‘IF’ clause is implied, but not spoken:
Change the words in brackets into their correct form (answers are in the free download at the bottom of the page):
Write the following phrases onto flashcards and place them face down on the table. The students need to choose, and complete it with a third conditional in their own words.
Give each of the students a blank piece of paper. They need to write one third conditional sentence about their past at the top. The students then need to pass their pages to the student on their left. Now each student needs to write another third conditional sentence to continue the consequences. Continue until the page gets back to the original student, or they have had enough. Get the students to read out their stories. e.g .If I had been born 100 years ago, I wouldn’t have gone to university. If you hadn’t gone to university, you wouldn’t have been able to get a job.
The students need to write down 5 regrets that they have. They then need to take turns telling the other students about their regrets, while the other students have to reassure them by giving them possible worse consequences. e.g. If I had spent more time training, I could have become an Olympic swimmer. If you had spent more time swimming, you would have drowned in the pool.
With this exercise, you can practice the third conditional and some current vocabulary that the students are learning. Place the vocabulary on flashcards face down on the table. The students take turns picking up a word, and asking other students a question with that word. The student has to answer the question with a third conditional e.g. ‘fuse’ Do you know where the fuse is for your oven? If I had been there when the builders installed the electrics, I would have seen where the fuse was installed.
Give the students a scenario where something has gone wrong. They have to blame each other for what happened (get them to do this exercise in pairs).
e.g. You locked yourselves out of the house.
If you had reminded me to take my keys, we wouldn’t be stuck outside.
If you hadn’t been in such a rush, I wouldn’t have run out in such a hurry.
If you had put the keys where they should have been, I would have seen them. etc etc
You can’t remember where you parked your car.
You got lost.
You missed the sales.
You failed an exam.
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