Conditional sentences are one of the most difficult topics for English learners. They start learning conditional sentences at Pre-Intermediate/Intermediate levels when they’ve learnt the fundamental concepts of English grammar. By the time learners achieve Upper-Intermediate/Advanced level, they are supposed to know three types of conditional sentences. However, most of my learners still get confused when it comes to unreal conditional sentences, such as Second conditional, Third Conditional, and Mixed Conditional sentences. For some learners it is very difficult to visualize or imagine an unreal situation. For example, my German or Russian speaking learners tend to struggle with Second and Third conditionals, which are used when talking about an unreal situation in the present or future (Second Conditional) or an unreal situation in the past (Third Conditional) that can’t be changed.
Learners also get confused by the form, as it consists of two clauses: independent and dependent. The dependent clause always starts with “If”,A typical mistake that my students tend to make is using “will” in a dependent clause in First Conditional, or using First Conditional instead of Second Conditional. Moreover, students get frustrated when they see all types of conditional sentences at once. The following image was created with the help of LucidChart and can be used to review forms and functions of using conditional sentences. It will also introduce Mixed conditionals, where students will be able to practice in a controlled and freer way in class . The handout was designed that way so that students can see the difference in form and meaning of the Conditional sentences. I intentionally used the same sentence (If I get some money tomorrow, I’ll get a ticket to LA), but in different settings and situations. Outlining and Color coding of all 4 Conditional sentences in a diagram will help English learners visualize the situation better and come up with the right form. In addition, the handout might work as a graphic organizer or reference, which students can use when they do controlled practice activities.