Teacher Tip – Working with If-Statements

The Unreal Conditional Grab-Bag

Posted by Stacey Fellom-Russo On August 1st, 2012 in Grammar and Beyond

Students at more advanced levels often have difficulty using the verb forms and meaning in conditional sentences. Unreal conditionals present a greater challenge in particular. Here’s a set of activities to teach and practice creating new sentences in a fun way.

Introduce unreal conditionals
Create a T- chart on the board and write an example sentence with an unreal conditional at the top of the chart. Identify the elements of the sentence including the if clause and the result clause, as well as the verb forms that are used in each of the clauses. Elicit a set of rules that govern each clause by having pairs of students write down something they notice about each clause.

Practice the conditionals using sentence strips
After a set of rules has been created, hand out conditional clause sentence strips. Some of the strips will have ifclauses and others will have result clauses written on them. Tell students to identify the parts of their sentence strip and identify the verb forms. Then, have the students place their strip into the correct column on the board.

Students should select one item from each bag, create example sentences and write them on the board.

Create original sentences using a grab-bag
Tell students that they must create one example of each type of unreal conditional using the items that they pick from each grab-bag. One grab bag is the if bag and represents the if clause. This bag contains items such as a fake 100 dollar bill, a toy sports car, million dollar lottery ticket, etc. Another bag, the result bag, also contains items that are used to represent a possible result. Some of these items might include a toy diamond ring, a picture of a mansion, etc. Students should select one item from each bag, create example sentences and write them on the board. To continue the activity, have students trade items and create new sentences for oral practice.

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