Monday, September 3, 2012

Third Conditional (with Benjamin Button)

View the clip here:

This clip is taken from the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  It has Brad Pitt narrating the build-up to the traffic accident that Kate Blanchet's character suffers.  During the narration the series of events that finally lead to the accident are described using past continuous and most notably past perfect tenses.  At the point where any alternative actions in the series are suggested which would have avoided the accident, the third conditional is used.  The key word of any standard conditional being "if". In the third conditional it looks like this: (If something had (not) happened) (this alternative would (not) have happenend).  The "if" is quite clearly stated in the clip but there are distractions which may make the whole conditional structure less obvious.

It is an interesting clip to consider in any lesson that deals with past tenses or the third conditional.  This clip does not have subtitles but is less than 4 minutes long.  Despite this and because of the complexity of language, upper intermediate EFL students may benefit from it more than students at intermediate level or below.

Relevant classroom activities could involve students being given a starting and finishing point in a series with or without any linking actions.  They could then be asked to create a similar narration to that which appears in the clip.  Check for logic and sentence structure.

Click here to buy the DVD The Curious Case of Benjamin Button starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett

Click here to buy the Blu-ray version of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

View the clip here:

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