Saturday 17 December 2011

What would have happened if..? 10 Inventors Killed By Their Own Inventions (3rd Conditional)

You are going to
  • discuss inventors and inventions
  • watch a video about inventors and inventions
  • do some comprehension activities based on the video which introduce and practise the 3rd conditional
  • look at and practise the 3rd conditional using photos from a presentation
  • reflect on the past and say what you would have done differently using the 3rd conditional

1) Discuss
  • Who invented television?
  • Who invented the internet?
  • What famous inventors do you know?
  • What did they invent?
  • What modern activities did they make possible?
  • What do you think have been the most important inventions in history?

2) Video clip - "10 inventors who were killed by their own inventions"
Before you watch, look at the list of inventors and inventions below.
The names are in the correct order but the inventions are not. As you watch, match the name with the correct invention. 
  • Can you guess any before you watch?
  • The inventors were killed by their own inventions. How do you think they died?
The numbers are in reverse order as the video is a top 10 countdown. One is done for you.
You can drag and drop the inventions.

Watch the video and check.

3) Discuss
All of the inventors were killed by their own inventions.
If they had known...
  • What would the inventors have changed?
  • What would they have done differently?

4) Match the beginnings and ends of these sentences
How much can you remember?
The beginnings and ends of the sentences below have been mixed up.
Match the beginnings of the sentences in the left hand column with the ends in the right hand column.
The first is done for you.
You can drag and drop the ends of the sentences.
Watch the video again if you need to check.

Note  for 3 and 4 - been strangled and been convicted are passives.
Printable version here

5) Presentation on the 3rd conditional
If the inventors had been more careful, they would have lived.
If we are imagining changes in the past what language do we use?
Look at all the sentences in ex 4. How do we make the 3rd conditional?
Look at the presentation to check.

6) Discuss / Practise
Reflect on the past. Think. Imagine.
In the last 12 months...
  • What would you have done if you'd had more time?
  • Would you have studied more English?
  • Would you have looked for a new job?
  • What would you have done differently if you'd had other choices?

Do you have any regrets in life?
  • What would you have changed if you'd had the chance? If I'd had the chance I would have...
  • If you had known a year ago what you know now, what would or wouldn't you have done differently in the last 12 months? If I'd known 12 months ago that ..., I would have...
  • What would you have changed in your childhood or when you were at school / college / university ? If I had studied music, I would have learnt to sing
  • What things wouldn't you have done? If I had known .., I wouldn't have...

7) Reading
Who are the top 10 most popular inventors?
What did they invent?
Find out here

Here's a list of inventors and their inventions. Find 5 which you think are the most useful.
Can you make some sentences in the 3rd conditional?.
If Tim Berners Lee hadn't invented the world wide web, they wouldn't have sold so many computers
If John Logie Baird hadn't invented TV, we wouldn't have been able to watch so many TV programmes

How many UK children think the Queen invented the telephone?

8) More practice
More practice on 3rd Conditional

More All Time 10s
Many thanks to All Time 10s who provided the video in this post with incredible speed when I asked about the idea on their facebook page. If they hadn't provided the video, this post would not have been possible!


  1. Love it! Great for my teens classes. Ill give it a go in the New Year

  2. Hi, You have a great blog! Highly recommended!

  3. Just found your site David - and voted cool. Also brilliant.

  4. Thanks Dominic, Your IELTS site is the one I always point my IELTS students to!

  5. Thank you very much! Wonderful and useful activities!