3rd conditional production from poem prompts

Levels: pre-intermediate to advanced.
´╗┐Ages: older teens; adults.
Type: creative grammar practice from poem prompts.
Skills: listening; reading; writing.
Language focus: grammar – using conditionals.

Write a short poem using the conditional(s) you want to focus on in class, and prepare a gapped version (for 3rd conditionals, you could fill in the rubric below):

I wouldn’t have _________ if I hadn’t/had _________.
I wouldn’t have _________ if I hadn’t/had _________,
and I certainly wouldn’t have _________.
But if I hadn’t, I would never have _________

I would’ve _________ if I had/hadn’t _________.
and I would’ve _________ if I had/hadn’t _________.
I might even have _________.
And if I had _________, I’d have _________.

I wouldn’t have gone to Paris if I hadn’t got bored of Jersey.
I wouldn’t have got bored of Jersey if I had just got a job,
and I certainly wouldn’t have left my family and friends to go travelling.
But if I hadn’t, I would never have felt so free.

I would’ve done my Masters if I’d got a first at university.
and I would’ve studied for a doctorate if I’d done my Masters.
I might even have become an academic.
And if I had, I’d sometimes have wondered how my life might have been different if I’d got a 2:1.

Note: you can adapt this rubric to encourage production of any grammar item, not just 3rd conditionals; and so you can use the format below with students at any level of linguistic skill.


  1. Board the gapped poem you created, or the gapped text above for 3rd conditional practice, if you like.
  2. Ask your students to listen as you recite your completed version of it. Pair the students, and ask them to try to reconstruct your text from what they can remember. When they are ready, elicit the correct lines and board them.
  3. If necessary, highlight some of the grammar points (e.g., the form would + have + past participle, if + had + past participle, and its unreality).
  4. Encourage students to ask questions about your text (with my example text above, students might want to know about the grading system at UK universities, or why I chose to go Paris rather than anywhere else).
  5. Ask your students to write their own texts, using the boarded rubric as a model. Monitor and help with any language difficulties at this stage.
  6. When they are ready, put them into pairs or small groups, where they can exchange their texts and ask each other questions about them.
  7. You could monitor this speaking activity and prepare some language feedback, although I think it’s a good idea to get some content feedback first from your students (e.g., nominate a few different students and find out one interesting thing they learned from their partner). The texts could then go on the classroom walls, if your students agree.

Acknowledgement: this idea comes from Creative Grammar Practice by G Gerngross and H Puchta, via Grammar by Scott Thornbury.

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