Song: El Condor Pasa (If I Could)

Idiomatic usage for the conditional is strong:

If… could…, …would….

El Cóndor Pasa (If I could)
Simon & Garfunkel

I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail
Yes I would, if I could, I surely would

I’d rather be a hammer than a nail
Yes I would, if I only could, I surely would

Away, I’d rather sail away
Like a swan that’s here and gone

A man gets tied up to the ground
He gives the world its saddest sound
Its saddest sound

I’d rather be a forest than a street
Yes I would, if I could, I surely would

I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet
Yes I would, if I only could, I surely would

In conversations in general – and speaking tests specifically – you will almost certainly answer any question with the same verb and in the same tense that the question gets asked.

For speaking tests, we need to speak only in a limited number of verb tenses.  One of those verb tenses is the conditional hypothetical.  Speaking tests lend themselves to hypothetical questions because hypothetical questions are fun, counter-factual, and impersonal.  Impersonal, yet everyone can answer them.

Give a P.R.E.P. answer to any of these questions.  You should use the conditional tense (“if”) verb tense.  Give good reasons and examples.

  • If you could go back to university and change your major, what major would you choose?
  • If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
  • If you could time travel, where would you go, and what would you do?
  • If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
  • If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?
  • If you could have a superpower, which superpower would you choose?
  • If you could live a moment in your life over again, which moment would you choose?
    • Would you choose to live that moment over again for the memory or to change your actions?
  • If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three material things would you want with you?
  • If you could have been told one thing that you weren’t told when you were a teenager, what would you like to have heard?
  • If you had one extra hour of free time per day, how would you use it?
  • If you had to lose one of your five senses (taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing), which one of them would you prefer to lose and why?
  • If you were president, what would you do?
  • If you could change one thing about your looks what would you change?
  • If you could keep only one memory, which memory would you keep?

P – If I could…, I would…
R – …because….
E – [For example] ….
P – So, if I could…, I would….


I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail

I’d rather be a hammer than a nail
Yes, I would.  If I could, I surely would

Ouch.

I’d rather be a hammer than a nail

I’d rather be a forest than a street

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