This is a role play for intermediate + students to review past modals. Students have upset someone important in their lives by doing, or not doing, something important and they must think of excuses to defend themselves.


  1. To review and correctly use past modals in context.
  2. To practise pronunciation of contracted verbs ‘should have’, ‘could have’ and ‘would have’.


Printable cards: print and cut out one set


  1. Review uses and form of ‘should have’, ‘could have’ and ‘would have’. Draw attention to the pronunciation.
  2. In pairs, students decide on their roles – student A is angry, student B is guilty.
  3. Student B takes a card with the description of their wrongdoing. They must place themselves in the situation and briefly describe what they have done to student A, e.g. ‘I am so sorry I didn’t call you last night, but I was out with friends and my battery died.’
  4. Student A is annoyed and must use ‘should have’, ‘could have’ and ‘would have’ in the discussion, e.g. You should’ve charged your phone before you left home. You could’ve looked for an internet café and emailed me. I would’ve have done anything in my power to get in touch with you.
  5. Student B must defend themselves, e.g. ‘The electricity went off and I couldn’t charge my phone!’, until student A has given at least 3 examples using ‘should’ve’, ‘could’ve’ or ‘would’ve’ done.
  6. Monitor and offer feedback. Students swap roles and repeat with a different situation.
  7. When the students have finished, ask them to choose their most interesting exchange to write as a dialogue and perform to the other students.


P.S. Stu, you really should’ve cut up the cards before the class the other day 🙂

P.S. Thank you Alex. I couldn’t have done it without you.

P.S. Thank you Stu. Without you putting me in a bit of a sticky situation in December, I would have procrastinated even more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s