What happened?

I have been doing a lot of thinking regarding the schedule of introducing different verb tenses and here is what I am almost completely convinced of: The past should be introduced almost immediately and simultaneously with the present.

IF we are truly using a communicative approach you will find that your students have a real need to use the past from the very beginning. Which is why, I have complete beginners learning the past right now. How do we do this?

Well, with film, with music, and with storytelling.

For example: Watch the following video. (first with no sound)

What did you see? What did your peers see?

Then play the video again, but this time with sound. Close your eyes and listen to the music.

What did you hear? What did your peers hear?

How did you feel when you watched the movie?

Did it make want to travel?


3rd Conditional

The 3rd Conditional is NOT difficult, so stop thinking it is! hehe. It just takes time to understand the structure and then implement it!

The structure is like this:

If + past perfect (had +past participle ) + Would + present perfect (have + past participle)

example: If I had known about the party, I would have gone.

Here is a GREAT excerpt from the movie Benjamin Button where you can see it in context.

And I have taken the time to transcribe the dialogue so that you can read along with the movie.

Sometimes we are on a collision course and we just don’t know it.

Whether it is by accident, or by design, there is not a thing we can do about it

A woman in Paris was on her way to go shopping, but she had forgotten her coat, went back to get it. When she had gotten her coat, the phone had rung, so she had stopped to answer it and talked for a couple of minutes. While the woman was on the phone Daisy was rehearsing for a performance at the Paris opera house. While Daisy was rehearsing, the woman had gone outside to get a taxi.

Now the taxi driver had dropped off a fare earlier and had stopped to get a cup of coffee, and all the while Daisy was rehearsing, and this cab driver who had dropped off the earlier fare, had stopped to get the cup of coffee, who picked up the lady who was going shopping, and had missed the earlier cab. The taxi had to stop for a man crossing the street who had left for work 5 minutes later than he normally did, because he forgot to set his alarm. While that man, late for work, was crossing the street, Daisy had finished rehearsal, and was taking a shower, and while Daisy was showering, the taxi was waiting outside a boutique for the woman to pick up a package, which hadn’t been wrapped yet, because the girl that was supposed to have wrapped it had broken up with her boyfriend the night before, and forgot. The package was wrapped, the woman was back in the cab, which was blocked by a delivery truck, all the while, Daisy was getting dressed. The delivery truck pulled away and the taxi was able to move, while Daisy, last to be dressed, waited for one of her friends who had broken a shoe lace, while the taxi was stopped waiting for a traffic light, Daisy and a friend came out of the back of the theater, and if only one thing had happened differently, if that shoe lace hadn’t broken, or that delivery truck had moved moments earlier, or that package had been wrapped ready because that girl hadn’t broken up with her boyfriend, or that man had set his alarm and gotten up 5 minutes earlier, or that taxi driver hadn’t stopped for a cup of coffee, or that woman would have remembered her coat, and got into an earlier cab, Daisy and her friend would have crossed the street and the taxi would have driven by.


Print the transcription and then underline all of the past and present perfect tenses and then write 5-10 sentences of what would have, or wouldn’t have happened, if only 1 thing had been different.



Past Simple

Learning and practicing the simple past can be easy if you do it in context.

Remember – to form the past for regular verbs all you need to do is add “d” to verbs ending in “e” or “ed” to verbs ending with any other letter.

Of course, in the case of irregular verbs, there is no good way to learn them other than by memory!

Here is a list of irregular verbs – I highly recommend that you do NOT try to memorize all of the verbs at the same time, but rather choose 2 or 3 per day. 

Then, to practice what you are learning, you can write simple anecdotes about things in the past.

A trip

A scary moment

A happy moment

You last birthday party

A dream you had

Here is a great example!

Gerund or Infinitive?

Do you often get confused about when to use the Infinitive or Gerund? It is normal! The key is memorization, but, here is a quick little review.

Infinitive: I love to run along the river

Gerund: I love running along the river.

Common Verbs Followed by an Infinitive

turn out
can’t afford
can’t bear
would like
can’t stand
can’t wait
grow up

Common verbs followed by Gerund

feel like
can’t help
give up

And some words can be used by both structures:

*begin* *like* *hate* *want* *try*

Watch the video below (only the first two sections of Infinitive and Gerund – not Bare Infinitive)  Then complete the exercise with either Gerund or Infinitive.

Fill in the blanks with either GERUND OR INFINITIVE.


  1. I want_________________(break) free.
  2. I can’t help________________(fall) in love with you.
  3. I need ________________(feel) real love.
  4. I know I tend________________(get) so insecure.
  5. I’d like _________________(make) myself believe.
  6. I don’t mind_______________(spend) every day.
  7. …struggling______________(pay) rent…
  8. Today I don’t feel like_______________(do) anything.
  9. There was a time I used________________(look) into my father’s eyes.
  10. I hate_____________(turn) up out of the blue uninvited.
  11. We refused ________________(run).
  12. A tiger’s waiting_____________(be) tamed, singing…
  13. So I cross my heart and I hope____________(die).
  14. Now, I’m done______________(believe) you.
  15. Tonight we’re going________________(be) getting on the floor.
  16. What am I supposed_______________(do)