This is a class for higher levels (B2+) to help students feel more comfortable and stumble less over complex past conditionals.
Here is a link to the printable handout:
As the title suggests the focus is on using the conditionals in conversation so start out by telling the class that you don’t want them to write anything down except the bare conditional structure for reference.
Tell them they are going to explore parallel universes in which they made different choices in their lives.
The exercise presents the students with different topics designed to generate past conditional sentences but also conversation. Explain that you don’t just want them to form 1 past conditional sentence from each point, they should explore each point fully in small groups and try to use the structure in a variety of ways: affirmative /negative / interrogative.
“If I hadn’t gone to the party, I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend because she was only in town for one night.”
“Do you think you would have had the chance to meet her again?”
“It’s possible, but maybe I would have met someone else.”
Note on pronunciation
For higher levels depending on how well they use the structure you can encourage them to use the weak forms:
Woulda / would’ve / wouldn’t ‘ve
If they have trouble with this start out with the contracted “had” in the if clause and slowly introduce the other forms.
If I hadn’t gone to the party, I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend. (past result)
Maybe we wouldn’t be together now. (present result)
If I hadn’t studied drama, I probably would have studied literature.
If I had studied business, I would have got a job in an insurance company
I could have
Explain difference between would have and could have
would have = what definitely happened in this parallel universe
could have = what possibilities were available in the parallel universe
If + had/n’t + past participle + would / could + have + past participle.
What did you study at school / university? What other options did you have? Explain them to your group.
Do you remember the interview for your job? What would have happened if you hadn’t got it?
If you have a partner how did you meet? How could things have happened differently?
Think of an important exam you passed or failed in the past, how could things have happened differently?
What would you have done this week if you’d had more time? Why?
What would you have done last year if you’d had more money?
Think of a time when someone helped you with something, what would you have done without their help?
Think of a time when you helped someone, what would they have done without your help?
Think of a time when you had an accident, how could things have happened differently?
Think of a time when you or someone you know was in danger, how could things have happened differently?
Think of big decisions you have made in your life related to work / studying / family, how could things have happened differently? How could things be different now?