Friday, 3 January 2014

New Year's Resolutions - First Conditional and Promises.


What is a New Year's resolution?

A New Year's resolution is a decision that you make, to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.

Can you think of some examples of common New Year's resolutions?

Look at the top ten resolutions last year according to: 

1. Save more money – 31%
2. Get out of debt – 22%
3. Get fit/lose weight – 18%
4. Change job/career – 16%
5. Quit smoking – 13%
6. Give up alcohol – 11%
7. Spend less time working – 9%
8. Spend more time with family/friends – 7%
9. Give up chocolate – 6%
10.  Move house – 2%

Why do you think that people make resolutions?

Why do you think most people fail to keep their resolutions?

If we could focus on what will be the advantage of keeping a resolution, maybe it would help. 


For example:

If I stop smoking, I will save money.
If I stop smoking, I will be healthier.
If I stop smoking, I will live longer.

We call this the 'First Conditional' in English:

If + present simple, will + verb.


If I eat less, I will lose weight.
If I use Facebook less, I will have more time.
If I do sport 3 times a week, I will be healthier.

This is a good idea, but it's still only a possibility. 

How can we make our sentence more certain?  By changing the 'If' to 'When'.

When + present simple, will + verb.


When I give up smoking, I will be healthier.
When I get a new job, I will be happier.

When makes the likelihood of the resolution more certain, but it doesn't guarantee that you'll succeed.  Maybe the name 'Resolution', is the problem.  So what about changing the name from 'New Year's resolution' to 'New Year's promise'?

Resolution: A firm decision to do, or not to do something.
Promise: A declaration that you will definitely do something in the future.

Let's make a promise to ourselves, to do something different this year, to make our lives better.

Sentence structure with 'promise':

I + promise + to infinitive


I promise to stop smoking.
I promise to do more sport.

I + promise (that) I + will/won't + verb.


I promise that I will do more sport.
I promise I won't spend so much time on Facebook this year.

Now watch this excellent video by 'Because I said I would' about making New Year's promises.  While you're watching, try to write down some of the promises that you hear and read in the video:

Here are some examples:

I promise to:
- rescue more animals.
- push myself out of my comfort zone.
- be who I want to be, not who society wants me to be.
- drop under 200 lbs.
- make 5 people smile every day.
- go vegetarian.

What about you? What New Year's promises are you going to make this year?

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