Posted 20/2/11

Quotations are an invaluable resource for the language classroom. As texts, they are short, autonomous in meaning, thought provoking, memorable and easy to obtain. We can make use of sites such as The Quotations Page as a quotation corpora.
  • Language level: Pre-intermediate; Intermediate (A2; B1)
  • Learner type: Teens; Adults
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Activity: Writing sentences
  • Topic: Quotations
  • Language: Second conditional
  • Materials: Worksheet
Second conditional quotations pdf [downloaded 6658 times]

Lesson plan outline

Quotations used for this lesson plan:

  • If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”
    Florynce Kennedy
  • If everyone on earth just stopped breathing for an hour, the greenhouse effect would no longer be a problem.”
    Jerry Adler
  • If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”
  • If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers.”
    Charles Dickens
  • If I had no sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide.”
    Muhatma Ghandi
  • If women didn’t exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning.”
    Aristotle Onassis
  • If God lived on earth, people would break his windows.”
    Jewish proverb
  • If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.”
    Johhny Carson
  1. If possible, introduce the idea of quotations culture by showing students a quotations book or an image (this one for example). Ask students if they like to use quotations and if they can recall any from memory. You could share the following:
  2. I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.” Marlene Dietrich
  3. Tell students that you have 8 incomplete quotations for them. Give out copies of the Incomplete quotations worksheet (see excerpt below – full worksheet included in PDF download) and ask students to attempt to complete them in any way that they like and write ideas in the spaces provided. Circulate and offer grammatical help as and when required.
  4. Let students share and compare what they have written. Continue to elicit or offer grammatical support whenever required.
  5. Quickly stick the 8 real quotation endings randomly around the classroom walls (provided in the PDF download).
  6. Ask students to go around the classroom and match the incomplete quotations with the real endings, which they should write on their sheets in the spaces provided.
  7. Go over the answers, drill pronunciation, and find out whether or not your students agree with the sentiments expressed in the quotations.

Follow ups

  • Ask students to illustrate the quotations. Later, use the drawings to reactivate and revise the language.
  • For homework, ask students to find out about the people behind the quotations.
  • Put some of your students’ favourite quotations up around the classroom walls, accompanied by pictures of those behind them.
  • Introduce students to the website that these quotations were taken from and demonstrate how they can find their own examples:
Posted 20/2/11

24 Responses to Conditional quotations

  1. marinamargoshvili says:


  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    It’s a pleasure Marina
    Hope you are having a nice Sunday
    Jamie :-)

  3. Addya says:

    Ooh, excellent! Just in time for tomorrow’s class on the 2nd conditional. :)

    This website has honestly been a big help for keeping things fresh.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank Addya
    Good luck with tomorrow’s class. Why don’t you get your students to illustrate the 8 conditionals (see first follow up above) and then send the results my way?
    Jamie :-)

  5. Angie Conti says:

    Great website. Great lesson plans. Thanks for this, it really is a great help!!! I will def share with colleagues.


  6. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Angie :-)

  7. Anne Hodgson says:

    Love this plan: simple, elegant, so much potential :)

  8. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Anne. I like your gravatar!

  9. Phillip Lloyd says:

    Another great lesson, Jamie. Thanks.
    But at the risk of being pedantic: is the Elvis quote from Jimmy Carson or Johnny Carson?

  10. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Philip
    You are right. It should have been Johnny. I have changed it and I thank you. No risk of pedantry here. Pedants focus on misplaced comas and the like. You on the other hand are looking for the truth!
    Thanks a lot
    Jamie :-)

  11. Sara Rosenman says:

    Hi Jamie

    Misplaced coma? Bit of a diagnostic nightmare whaddya reckon? Bet the medical profession have to put their thinking caps on to treat that one!

    Love your site

    Sara (a misplaced pedant!)…:)))

  12. Jamie Keddie says:

    Ha ha – oh no! Not again.
    My instinct is to change the mistake it but then your funny comment would make no sense.
    Well done Sara – £10 is on its way to you :-)

  13. Sara Rosenman says:

    Hi Jamie,

    Me again…(misplaced coma pedant!) ….Lovely idea, only one problem with the Mahatma Gandhi quote….’If I HAD no sense of humour, I WOULD long ago HAVE COMMITTED suicide.’ It would appear to be a mixed conditional, (containing elements of 2nd and 3rd), rather than a ‘pure’ second conditional. Thought I’d just mention it given the joy that we have trying to tease out some of the more straightforward elements of the grammar behind the conditionals.

  14. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello miss pedant girl
    Now with this one I am already ahead of you!
    I knew that this one didn’t fit the second conditional formula. But I decided to include because not doing so would be failing to include a good quote just because it didn’t tefl grammar. I didn’t draw attention to it but thought that:

    a. Teachers could use it to demonstrate the non-conformational nature of language (i.e. introduce students to the so-called mixed conditional)
    b. Teachers could change it to “If I had no sense of humour, I would commit suicide” if they wanted. That was it would fit the structure.

    In any case, you get another 10 pounds for being the first person to point it out.
    I assume you already got the first 10 pounds right?
    Jamie :)

  15. Richard says:

    I used this last year with a class (from the old blog) and we had a great selection of imaginative quotes and lots of amusement! On the pedantry, the three conditionals are such a false construction, they are often so mixed that I think teaching them separately doesn’t necessarily do anyone any favours, particularly the so-called 2nd and 3rd. Anyway I’m not really much of a grammarian so I’ll shut up now! ; )

    Nice to meet you at iatefl!


  16. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Richard
    Great to meet you too. Thanks for coming by!
    You are absolutely right about the conditionals thing. The reality is that it is a messy business. My thoughts are, however, that we can teach the tidy forms and then make students aware of the so-called mixed forms and take it from there. It is easier to demonstrate cases of chaos than to teach them. But that’s just my thoughts. Other teachers have other ways of doing things. In fact, I tried for years not to focus on grammar in class. But students started complaining – they seemed to want at least a little bit every day. What’s a teacher to do?!
    Thanks again

  17. YAĞMUR says:


  18. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Yağmur
    It’s a big pleasure! Very happy to hear that you enjoyed the talk. I really enjoyed Istanbul.
    Thank you!
    Jamie :-)

  19. Jeremy says:

    Good lesson, worked very well with my 4th/5th grade senior high school students in Taiwan. I tasked them with finding their own quotes which they also enjoyed doing.

    They especially liked this one;
    “If you put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, it feels like an hour. If you sit with a pretty girl for an hour, it feels like a minute. THAT’S relativity”.

    Jamie, thanks for continuing to share your lessons.

  20. Jamie Keddie says:

    Ha ha – great find from your students Jeremy
    Thanks for your nice comment
    Jamie :)

  21. Renilde Es says:

    Great lesson, Jamie. I used it with my adult students and they really liked it. I had made a few changes: instead of giving them the worksheet, I dictated the first part of the quotations and let them work in groups of 3 to think of the endings. Then they did a ‘running dictation': one student had to run to the board with the real endings stuck to it and report a few quotations to their group, then the next student had to do the same, until they could work out all 9 quotations (I had added one more: ‘If men liked shopping, they’d call it research” (it’s mainly a women’s class!).
    I’d like to thank you for your great ideas; I’ve been following your site since I met you on a workshop in Antwerp, a few years ago and I’ve tried out several lessons!

  22. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you very much Renilde
    I like your variation. I love the energetic aspect of a running dictation.
    Hope all is ell in Antwerp. I am a big fan of your city. Hope to come back one day soon.
    Jamie :)

  23. Patricia says:

    Loved it. Am using it today – topics to intrigue and grammar at the same time. Excellent.


  24. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Pat
    Good luck!
    Jamie :)