My biggest regret (composition): Group A and B

( My group is B)

Exercise: Imagine that you are 90 years old, and express your greatest regret.


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Goal: To practice the different verbal tenses to “tell your past” and imagine your future and how things could have been different.

Detailed description:

Imagine you are 90 years old. (You can project yourself into the future, or invent a character.)

Reflect on your life, and talk about your greatest regret. Explain why you regret this, and what effect this decision or lack of action has had on your life.

Be sure to give a frame to this writing: is it a letter to someone, a chapter in your memoirs, a page in your private journal?

You must seek to give the maximum of “life” to this writing; take time (in written preparation exercises, a schematic plan, internal reflections) to “build” the whole life of this character; you will not put all the details of his life in your text, but you have to imagine it well to be able to consider the repercussions of the different actions that you have taken.

Warning: It’s important to consider the fact that depending on your age, what you regret today may not be what you regret the most when you turn 90. Make an effort to imagine yourself at that age; feel free to talk to people older than you. Do not hesitate to incorporate into your composition sentences that you made in the preparation exercises, or to develop ideas that you had in your previous writings: your reflections on the poem (Group B), your regrets of ‘today, etc.

Procedure: Group A: You will write in several steps, to examine the question well and practice the different verbal tenses. You will post your answers for (1) – (4) in the “Preparation: My Biggest Regret” discussion so I can comment on your grammar and you all can benefit from each other’s ideas.

(1) For Monday October 12: First, imagine the future in general. What will the world be like when you turn 90? Write 10 sentences in the future, to describe how everyday life will be different. Do not speak of your individual life yet, but of your vision of the future world. (5 pts)

(2) For Wednesday October 14th: Then you will start to invent your future “character”. Consider, before choosing your “regret,” whether you prefer to draw a rather optimistic (a good life, but a small regret) or negative (a great regret and an unhappy “present” portrait). Continue: First of all, imagine this person’s “past”. You are now 90 years old. What have you done / what happened to you in your life? Outline the main lines of your life, the major events: studies, moves, work, marriage, children, successes and failures. Write 20 sentences or more, with years, at least one detail every 5 years. Use the past tense and the imperfect. [Example: In 2025, I accepted a position in Dubai. I didn’t like the heat, but the pay was excellent.] (10 pts)

(3) For Friday October 16: Continue to invent your future “character”. You are 90 years old. Write a description of your personality, of your life (where do you live? With whom? Do you have friends? How is your health? What do you do every day?), And finally, name your most great regret. Here you are using the present tense. Write at least 10 sentences (5 pts)

(4) Also for Friday October 16: From this regret, write five conditional sentences (using the more-than-perfect and the present or past conditional depending on the meaning). If you hadn’t done the action you regret, how would your life have been different? How would she be different today? [Example: If I had not accepted this position, I could have stayed in Chicago with Anne. We would have married. We would have lived happily together.] (5 pts)

(5) For Friday October 23: Now use everything you did as a preparation to produce the composition itself. You are not going to put all these preliminary exercises in your composition; some (e.g. # 1) were just for you to create and imagine that future. Write at least 500 words.

The shape of this composition can vary, but students often use this scheme:

(a) Introduction: You introduce yourself by creating a frame (is it a letter? do you write in a private journal? * why * are you writing now?), you describe your “current” life (at age 90 ), and you say your biggest regret.

(b) Development – your past: you describe your past, remembering to relate what you have been doing throughout your life, before and after the moment of this regret.

(c) Development – another view: you use conditional sentences to explain how your life would have been different if you had acted otherwise.

(d) Conclusion – What are you going to do now? Are you quite happy with your life and do you feel relieved to have shared this regret with the recipient (s) of your writing? Or are you sad? Try to wrap your text well.

(6) For Friday October 30: Your homework will be returned to you on October 26 with codes indicating your grammatical errors. Depending on the grade you receive, you must or can correct grammatical errors in your assignment and return it a second time for a higher grade. If you have made more than 20 “serious” errors (gender / chord, conjugation, choice of verbal tense, incomprehensible sentence), a second version is mandatory. If you have made less than 20 “serious” mistakes, whether or not you want to try for a higher grade is up to you. (It’s okay for group A students to do a second draft.)

Procedure, Group B:

(1) Read the instructions for group A. You do not have to do the preparation exercises for group A, but if any you find useful, you can of course do them in the discussion or for yourself. However, you have an accelerated schedule compared to Group A. So if you want to post answers to the preparation exercises for feedback, do so on Wednesday October 14th at the latest.

(2) You must return the first draft of your composition on Friday October 23.

750 words minimum for the final version

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