Sep 1, 2008

Premonition: Past Modals – Speculation/ Impossibility Speculation – Might/Could + Have + Past Participle

I just love this movie, which was not such a great blockbuster. The story is clever and I was intrigued by the plot throughout the movie. Although a bit shocking, the scene is perfect to speculate about what happened to the characters. So I used it to practice the use of past modals for speculation.

Watch the video segment and guess what might have happened
to the characters. Check the options you believe are possible
explanations for the characters’ current situation.


( ) Jen took too many tranquilizers in the previous night.

( ) Her daughter had a domestic accident.

( ) Jen hurt her daughter.

( ) Jen’s daughter hurt herself.

( ) Jen’s husband, Jim, didn’t die.

( ) Jim died in a car accident.

( ) Jen hit her head on the floor and can’t remember anything.

( ) One of the children was attacked by a mad dog.

Now rewrite these sentences using past modal verbs to express
probability/ possibility/ impossibility.

1 - Jen might have taken too many tranquilizers in the previous night.

2 - Her daughter might have had a domestic accident.
How to prepare your own video activity:
Grammar Goal: Past Modals – Speculation/ Impossibility

• Select a segment in which the viewer cannot predict what happened before the scene actually takes place.
• Prepare an exercise with several possible (or impossible) explanations for the puzzle.
• Ask students to rewrite the same sentences, using the grammar point – Might/ Could/ Can’t/ Must + have + past participle.


Grace Gómez said...

This a very good idea! I was just looking for some extra activities to have my students practice this structure. Thanks for sharing this material!!

Claudio Azevedo said...

Thank you for the feedback. This segment works really well for the purpose. Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

Gracias por esta creativa forma de hacer que los estudiantes practiquen muchos de los temas de gramática que incluyen nuestros cursos. Lo estaremos usando de seguro.
UDLA, Cholula, México
Beatriz Garcia

Claudio Azevedo said...

Thank you, Breatriz. I'm glad they are useful.

Ana Albi said...

I love using this segment. I've used several times, and I always have great results with or without the worksheet. My favorite part is how curious they get to know what really happened, so I tell them to rent the movie, hehe! :)

Claudio Azevedo said...

I agree. They want to kill us, teachers, when they realize we are not revealing the truth. Thanks for the feedback.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for the clip and idae I will use it tommorow, however the worksheet does not download.

Claudio Azevedo said...

Thank you, Jonathan. It is weird that you couln't download it. I have just opened it now. Try it at
This is the scribd page you can find the uploaded document. I hope it works now. Claudio

Claudio Azevedo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I have just seen this. I am going to use it in my class tomorrow. I will let you know how it works.
Great idea.

Claudio Azevedo said...

Great. Let me know if it worked. See you.

Clare Jones said...

Help please!! I can't download the movie clip and can't find the precise scene on youtube - where does the scene appear in the movie? I'd be grateful for your help! Thanks.

Claudio Azevedo said...

Check this post out. It is probably your intenet browser version. It is very simple with real player. Let me know if you managed. This video is not in youtube, just here.

Claudio Azevedo said...

encarni said...

Dear Claudio, thanks a lot for your blogs they have improved my lessons enormously, so. thanks a lot for your good work and your great ideas.

encarni said...

Thanks a lot for your blogs, they have impreoved my lessons enormously, so, thanks a lot for your work and your great ideas

Unknown said...

this is just wonderful idea !
I wanted to it possible ti use "will" instead of "must" to express high probability? I'd appreciate your answer :)

Unknown said...

that's really helpful !
but I wanted to ask if we could use the modal verb "will" instead of "must" to express high probability?

Claudio Azevedo said...

Yes, both are possible!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I want to say thanks for the great material in this blog. You and your guests make our job that much easier and engaging for the students. I can't get to the segment of this movie, Premonition, but I happen to have it at home. Could you describe the segment so I can use the material? Once again, thanks!

Claudio Azevedo said...

It has been fixed. Check it out.