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Grammar analysis
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Augustus



Joined: 16 Oct 2012
Posts: 98

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 2:42 pm    Post subject: Grammar analysis Reply with quote

Hello!

I'm well into my CELTA course now and really enjoying it, although I am massively busy and am not managing to get much extra work done apart from assignments + teaching prep.

I am here in the library working on the 1st assignment at the moment and struggling a little. I have managed the first sentence (of 4) and am now working on the 2nd but struggling with interpretative of it as there just isnt much to it.

I have finally decided its a 3rd conditional (thank you Swan for being clearer than many other books!) and I think the easiest way to present the analysis is to put it into a table (which won't copy over so I have written it out).

If I had studied harder, I wouldn’t have failed my exam.

If – clause + Subject + Past perfect + adverb + subject + Contraction and negative form of “would have” + Past perfect + pronoun +Subject

I have broken the two sentences down in stating the function/meaning and said that the first clause in the sentence refers to a possible situation which didn’t happen and the second clause refers to the consequences of this inaction. I am worried that I being too wordy here (and making it too complicated).

I think the possible student difficulties are likely to lie in conveying probability - a series of untaken actions resulting in a consequence which has also already occurred.

They ask that I suggest a possible context to teach the language and I guess I would look at something along the lines of regret focusing on this third form of if-clause condition and do other forms separately.

I expect the learners are likely to be familiar with an academic environment where outcomes are based on learner input so I would pursue this to an extent with a variety of exercises. I would also ask them to complete sentences relating to actions they did or didn’t undertake which may have lead to different outcomes, emphasising that that these are completed actions. For instance, if I had not come to England, I wouldn’t have met you.

I have to suggest some concept questions which sounded easy but actually its really hard not to use the same words used in the 1st sentence so at the moment I have:

He failed his exam – why?
What would have happened if he had done more class work?

Thank you for any input

Augustus
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9438
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Augustus:

Fluffy will no doubt be on duty here momentarily with the longer and more technical response to your query, but for what it's worth, let me say simply that you are absolutely on the right track with this.

The difficulty I've found some students have with this is the first clause - why are we talking about the consequences of something that didn't happen? Why can't we change the first clause?

The example I have used often is 'If I had invested in microsoft 20 years ago, I'd be wealthy now (and not here in a classroom with you, dear students!).

You're absolutely correct that the main use of the third conditional is most often for regrets (though your example above - I wouldn't have met you - is hopefully one of the exceptions!). History also works, along the lines of What if people had never developed satellite technology?'

cau
spiral
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also think you're on the right track ... but you may be overthinking it for the purpose of the task. What you have written is a little wordy and needs a bit too much of my brainpower on a sunday afternoon. Keep it super-simple all the time.

If I cant understand it on a lazy sunday afternoon it may be difficult for your learners to understand it.

Its definitely third conditional, and it can be used to express regret (although not always). A nice simple definition suitable for your course and to give students is ...

Third conditional is used to talk about imaginary situations in the past. They are often the opposite for what actually happened.

Your breakdown of form is really wonky though. Id look at that again ... the model I would quote from my textbook is this....(as per Face2Face Intermediate P141 Language Summary)

If + subject + past perfect, subject + would / wouldnt + have + past participle

Some concept check questions for your example might include:
Did he study hard? no
Has he taken his exam? yes
Did he pass his exam? no
With more context you could add a question checking regret. Is he happy about his exam result? (context is key there because regret isnt always expressed with every 3rd conditional statement.)
Can he change what happened? no, its in the past.

Context in which to teach it ... I like the idea of important moments in life. These dont have to focus exclusively on regret ... and regret could raise touchy issues in class for some students. (I had an adult student cry in my first class on my first day last year ... but thats another story). Important moments can include success as well as regret.

Im trying to think of a popular song that expresses regret and uses a third conditional structure but am struggling at the moment. Find a song and present that as the context in which you'd teach 3rd conditional and you'll be a real superstar!

And edited to add: Just stumbled across the rather annoying song, 'Cotton Eyed Joe'.

If it hadnt been for Cotton Eye Joe, Id have been married a long time ago.

Might be some mileage in that song and many others for teaching this structure


Last edited by Denim-Maniac on Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:00 pm; edited 2 times in total
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12448
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear spiral78,

I agree with you about Augustus's being on the "right track."

I do have a question, though. Augustus seems to be writing here about the third conditional, you, in your example, -

"The example I have used often is 'If I had invested in microsoft 20 years ago, I'd be wealthy now (and not here in a classroom with you, dear students!)."

gave a "mixed conditional." (If clause in the 3rd, main clause in the 2nd).

Might that not be a little confusing?

Regards,
John

"Never Would Have Made It" Marvin Sapp

"I Never would have made it
Never could have made it without You
I would have lost it all
But now I see how You were there for me

And I can say
I never would have made it
Never could have made it
Without You

I would have lost it all
But I now I see
How You were there for me
And I can say
I'm stronger, I'm wiser
I'm better, much better

When I look back
Over all You brought me through
I can see that You were the One
I held on to

And I never, never would have made it
(Never would have made it)
Oh, I never could have made it
(Never could have made it without You)

Oh, I would have lost it all
Oh, but now I see
How You were there for me

I never
(Never would have made it)
No, I never
(Never could have made it without You)

I would've lost my mind
A long time ago
If it had not been for You
I'm

I am stronger
(I am stronger
I am wiser
(I am wiser)
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Dedicated



Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 729
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Augustus,

Tell the students If : unreal past situations (hypothetical)

With "if" we use "would have...and past perfect tenses to distance our language from reality, when we talk about unreal situations in the past.

Main Clause : If-Clause

Would have +past participle Past Perfect Tense

I would have been in bad trouble if John hadn't helped me

You would have passed you exam if you had worked harder

The if-clause can come first :

If John hadn't helped me, I would have been in bad trouble.

(I'm trying to format this as a table.....)
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9438
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear John:

Yes.
That's what I get for trying to wax technical on a lazy Sunday afternoon (especially when I have far fewer than 1 per week of these!).

cau
spiral
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1214

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Augustus - and welcome back!

I'm going to add to your other question about why students find the third conditional difficult.

1. There are lots of "components" to remember: past perfect and a would / could / might + perfect infinitive are a lot to remember to get right (and in the right order). Students generally have difficulty with what comes after the "if" bit, often adding in the modal there, rather than in the other half of the conditional.

2. Because there are so many auxiliaries, it makes hearing the third conditional in its entirety difficult. If students are exposed to native speaker conversations, where auxiliaries (and "grammatical words" in general) are not usually stressed, hearing them (ie isolating them from the rest of the items in a sentence) is quite hard to do. So if you aren't hearing lots of examples, it can make producing them difficult.

Well, that's a very wordy, Sunday evening type of reply, but hope it helps anyway.
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1214

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And to add to contexts for teaching it, I'd go along with the regrets idea.

I once developed some nice material with a photo of the Rodin statue "The Thinker" with bubbles coming out of his mouth.

"If I'd studied harder in school ....."

(then using a range of modals, not just "would".)

You can adapt this endlessly depending on your knowledge of your students, the teaching context and so on.

Come to think of it, I probably used the same photo for modals in the past:

I should have / I ought to have / I could have etc
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9324
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main problem that learners have with conditionals is the same as that which teachers can sometimes have: the words used to describe it. Mainly, for Third Conditional it is misleading to use terms like Past Perfect and Present Perfect when describing the form, though many grammars do just this. Refrain from unwieldy and inaccurate technical terms, and many of the problems disappear. It can be easier to illustrate it this way.

If Hitler had won the war, he would have destroyed the USSR
Unreal past verb ............(unreal) past modal verb

Mixed conditionals (of which there are almost infinite combinations) can be illustrated thus:

If Hitler had won the war, we would all speak German now
Unreal past verb ..............(unreal) modal verb

The only difference is that the result is about now, hence the absence of the have after the modal verb.

Use situations that are relevant to your learners! These ones work in Russia, but may not elsewhere... Germany for instance : )

Good luck on the Celta!
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2730
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My tuppenny:

Although the 3 conditionals are only part of what is possible (see for example the mixed conditional - first half 3rd, second half 2nd - that Spiral introduced, and got picked up on by John), they can be your friend for the purposes of understanding and analysis:

1st: If I study harder, I will pass the exam. (Nothing particularly difficult about this one, though note the modal auxiliary can/may/might/shall/ought to[/should/could] differ. There is an arguable future orientation to this, but ultimately it is just a less remote form of hypothesis compared to e.g. the 2nd conditional).

2nd: If I studied harder, I would pass the exam. (The verbs here are obviously "set back" a little compared to the 1st's ones. This "setting back", which some have termed "remoteness", can be temporal - in which case the 'if' can take on almost a 'whenever' quality, and the 'would' can take on a more-than-once "habitual" aspect, cf. 'I knew if I studied harder, I would pass the exam', which is most likely a "once-only" thing in the past, thanks to the extra context supplied by 'I knew', and a sort of hypothetical set in the past, whereas for non-past hypothesis simply carry on reading past the dash right here LOL > - or it can be in terms of reality or rather unreality, so the person is talking hypothetically in the "here and now"/about no time in particular, rather than~certainly not past-hypothetically (for the latter of which, see the next, 3rd conditional entry)).

3rd: If I had studied harder, I would've passed the exam. (The remoteness here is both temporal and in terms of hypothesis [though arguably the temporal meaning applies slightly more to the if-clause, and the hypothetical meaning slightly more to the other clause]. The reason for adding perfect aspect is [that it is the only way] to "set back" even further from the realms occupied by the 2nd conditional above. Grammarians may talk about "anteriority" with regard to the forms that the 3rd conditional contains: "anterior time", "before-past" or "past-within-the-past" for the past perfect in the if-clause, and let's say a "remoteness-within-or-upon-a-remoteness" regarding the 'would + have + part participle'. NB: Celce-Murcia & Larsen-Freeman's The Grammar Book is good on this sort of stuff).

Note that the keyword signifying hypothesis is 'if'. That is, past and past perfect tenses without 'if' are obviously about previous or completed facts or events rather than anything hypothetical:

TomKat broke up last year.
They waited until I had finished; They went when I had finished.

There is however an inverted (aux before subject) and thus if-less form of these tenses, esp. with the auxiliaries were, had and should, that signals hypothesis. The style is formal and/or literary (written):

Were she my daughter...
Had we not changed our reservations (*Hadn't we...)

Look in Swan's PEU index for 'inversion: in conditionals' for more on this last point. The actual section is 261.6 in the Second edition.

Regarding teaching the 3rd (or any) conditional, as others have noted, it comes down to strength of example and context. It is good to posit a mixed conditional alternative reality for "now" in addition to the imagined counter-reality set in the past:

If Bruce Lee hadn't taken that aspirin, he would't've died/he would still be alive today.

Page 263 of Swan & Walter's How English Works has some amusing (though quite lengthy and not exactly true or "well-known") story chains that force students to shuttle between two pairs of basic statements at a time, and then move one statement along and start again. For example:

Mary's mother went out that evening > Mary had to cook for herself > got interested in cooking > opened very successful restaurant > had PM as customer > PM ordered mussels > mussels poisoned PM > PM died > Mary was prosecuted and went to prison for a long, long time.

If Mary's mother hadn't gone out that evening, Mary wouldn't've had to cook for herself; If Mary hadn't had to cook for herself, she wouldn't've got/become interested in cooking; and so on.

Some teachers may find such practice a little tedious and mechanical, but ultimately, moving from known facts/how things actually are and currently stand to hypotheses/imagining alternate and often better realities is what we are at least implicitly doing when we "somehow" formulate conditional utterances.

I liken the spoken double contractions of 'wouldn't've had' etc to the sound a train's wheels make on the rails when coasting along fast: "tick-a-tick-ah". It probably isn't standard to have them in formal writing though: wouldn't have pp. (In speech, have or 've are both still a syllable long, but at least the latter is substantially reduced, merging into the preceding syllable).

Another thing I like to work on is getting listeners (person B) to respond with at least some appropriate modal clauses (the context represented by and in the if-clause is either too obvious, or already "given"/shared thanks to A's storytelling, and thus not always necessary to go through or back over and "repeat"):

A: I love chocolate, I've eaten 2 kilos so far today, and plan on eating at least another 2! - B: I'd cut down on how much chocolate you eat (if I were you (eating so much chocolate))!

A: ...so I was out on this date with this beautiful girl in this swanky restaurant, and this guy suddenly comes up to our table and tells me to get out! B: I'd've hit him (if I'd been there/were you)! Who the hell was he, or did he think he was, speaking to you like that?!

Note that this last activity won't work with 'will' (i.e. the modal half of the first conditional) anytime the speaker is expressing their personal, more or less immediate reaction/snap decision, rather than predicting what somebody else will (only might) do. Compare the following examples:

A: I was flirting with that new secretary... B: The boss will want to fire you if he finds out. He always has first dibs on the new girls.

A: Oh no, the train's been cancelled! B: I'll get a taxi (?if...).


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:51 am; edited 12 times in total
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sashadroogie wrote:
The main problem that learners have with conditionals is the same as that which teachers can sometimes have: the words used to describe it. Mainly, for Third Conditional it is misleading to use terms like Past Perfect and Present Perfect when describing the form, though many grammars do just this.


I felt like that when I typed my response ... hence going back to edit it and add the reference of Face2Face Very Happy I think for the purpose of a CELTA course that Face2Face form would be pretty much all the course instructors are seeking though.

Id still plump for 'important moments in life' for context though. Unless I knew the students very well Id be hesitant to do regrets.

Anyway, here is my marker sentence. Completing initial teacher training is obviously a real important moment!

I passed my CELTA in 2008. If I hadnt passed my CELTA, I wouldn't have understood the 3rd conditional structure. Very Happy
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12448
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Demin_Maniac,

"If I hadn't passed my CELTA, I wouldn't have understood the 3rd conditional structure."

Maybe a slight problem with that. By using the third conditional in the main sentence, the implication (since it's in the past) is that you don't understand it now.

A mixed conditional might be better:

If I hadn't passed my CELTA, I wouldn't understand the 3rd conditional structure.

Regards,
John
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artemisia



Joined: 04 Nov 2008
Posts: 867
Location: the world

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Augustus,

With the 3rd conditional, I’ve found it useful to focus on and establish real scenarios in the past with students (they did something/ they didn’t do something). This can be as simple as not calling someone and missing out on something / drinking too much coffee and feeling sick / not going to bed early (staying up all night playing computer games) and feeling tired. You can get students to make 2 sets of sentences about past events and unfortunate consequences (which they later transform). The important point is that both sets of sentences have to be in the past simple tense. (I forgot to call my friend. She was very annoyed with me / I stayed up all night playing computer games. I felt tired this morning **). I then introduce the idea of unreal (past) situations and how we can express our feelings about what did or didn’t happen. These can be about feelings of success/ relief: I moved out of the way in time. The car didn’t hit me. (If I hadn’t moved when I did, the car would have hit me), but 3rd conditionals, as noted here, are most commonly associated with expressions of feelings of regret and that's the case with your example.

On the board: I failed my exam.
I ask the class: “How do I feel about that? / Why did I fail the exam?” (I didn’t study hard enough etc.).
I write up their ideas and sometimes ask students to combine the ideas: I failed my exam because .... (I didn’t study hard enough).

Then I say something along the lines of:
“I really wanted to pass that exam! It was stupid of me not to study more. How could things be different now? (Ideas from class) Can I change the past? (Ask class) No, but I still want this to be different. I didn’t study hard, but...”:
On the board: If I had studied harder, I wouldn’t have failed my exam. (Elicited from students if they (sort of) know it).

I usually see what students already know and if it’s correct, I write it up. Some of them have quite likely had this form before, but probably can’t put all the parts together. I ask them which sentence describes the real past situation and the unreal past situation (usually regretful feelings that express what would/could/might have happened). You can use concept checking questions [CCQ]: Did I study hard enough? Did I pass the exam?


** You can combine 3rd & 2nd conditionals to make a mixed version by having a list of past events and present consequences: I forgot to call my friend. She is very annoyed with me. (If I hadn't forgotten to call my friend, she wouldn't be annoyed with me) / I arrived late to class. I don't understand anything!! (If I hadn't arrived late to class, I would understand everything!!). Again, I ask students to focus on the real situation first. I prefer that students have a fairly good grasp of 2nd and 3rd conditionals before attempting mixed ones because they’re all quite difficult structures.
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Cool Teacher



Joined: 18 May 2009
Posts: 891
Location: Here, There and Everywhere! :D

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:35 am    Post subject: Re: Grammar analysis Reply with quote

Well, without being too fogyish I should say that aren't we helping you with your homework? Confused In my day that was called cheating? Shocked Confused

Anyway, why are you taking an exam for CELTA, when I did it it was all teaching and assignments. Looks like other things have changed since my day. Shocked

Anyway, good luck! Cool
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artemisia



Joined: 04 Nov 2008
Posts: 867
Location: the world

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's up to Augustus what he/she decides to read here and take on. I don't see anything wrong with passing on help and ideas to someone starting out. If I did, I wouldn't contribute. Augustus has already had quite a lot of flak for this. It'd be different if little to no attempt had been made to address the question before posting here, but that's not the situation. It's for an assignment, not an exam.
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