He couldn’t have seen a ghost!

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  • B2
  • C1
  • General

Grammar - past modals

past modals


In this grammar lesson, students learn a few idioms for expressing emotions, discover how to use past modals as well as practise them in speaking activities.

B2 / Upper Intermediate
C1 / Advanced
45 minStandard LessonPremium Plan


The worksheet starts with a short exercise in which students learn six idioms related to different emotions. First, they have to complete a few dialogues with some words given. The task include idioms such as look like thunder, walk on air, shake like a leaf, etc. Next, students read the dialogues again and try to guess what emotions the idioms refer to. To practise them in speaking, they have to discuss questions which all include the idioms they’ve just learnt.


The second part of the worksheet focuses on grammar. All the dialogues from ex. 1 include different past modals, so students read the dialogues again and discover the rules when we use specific past modals. Then, they get a few sentences and have to react to them using verbs in brackets. After that, students move to the speaking part which consists of two activities. In the first one, they look at some pictures and say how the people there feel. Then, they should make deductions about the past using different past modals: must, can’t, couldn’t, might (not), could, may. Encourage students to use also some emotion idioms to describe how the people in the pictures feel. Finally, we prepared six situations for students to discuss. They have to read each situation and result, think about what might have happened and speculate about each point. The activity is best done in pairs where students can discuss together each situation, but it also works fine when done individually.



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Leave a Reply

  1. Valentina Cerda

    It was a nice lesson, however I felt like a clear explanation of the idioms was missing.


    1. Morad Banks

      I think it’s clear enough from the context and also a point of discussion where the teacher can guide the students and elicit and help them establish the meaning.


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