As if! Talking About Imagination and the Untrue


Children love make-believe.  Make-believe is when you imagine that something is true and then act accordingly.

children girls child kids tree fort castle pretend fantasy fantasize make-believe pretend ESL English

For example, the children in this picture might be imagining that they are elves living in the forest.  Perhaps they are imagining that they are princesses in a castle.

princess prince castle pretend fantasy fantasize make-believe pretend ESL EnglishIf you listen to children playing, they often say, “Let’s pretend (S + V).”  Saying “Let’s pretend” is an invitation to someone to imagine the same thing that you are imagining.  “Let’s pretend we can fly.  Let’s pretend we’re rich.”  Even adults use this expression: “Let’s pretend we like each other and try to get along.”

When adults imagine, they often use the verb + preposition combination “act as if.”  This is followed by conditional the II grammar pattern.

act as if god neptune sea ocean Greek Roman pretend fantasy fantasize make-believe pretend ESL EnglishHe acts as if he were God. (He’s not.)  Notice how instead of using “is,” we use “were” to show that the situation is imaginary.  Here is another example: “Act as if you were confident.”

(You might not really be confident, but pretend.)

When someone says or does something that we suspect might be untrue or just pretending, we can check, by asking “You’re kidding, right?”  If the person isn’t serious or is pretending, s/he might say: “Just kidding!”  If they are serious, they might insist: “I’m not kidding!

Practice:  Finish these sentences…

  1. I often see little kids playing make-believe.  They like to make believe that (S + V).
  2. When I was a child, I used to pretend that (S + V).
  3. When people act as if (S + V), that makes me mad.  However, I think it’s a good thing to act as if (S + V) even if it’s not true.
  4. When was the last time you said to someone: “You’re kidding, right?”  Was the person kidding?