Talking About: Remembering & Forgetting

remember forget girl-kid-child-point-sticky-note-smile-study-remember-forget-point-english-esl-actionWhen we remember to do something—remember + an infinitive—we complete a plan that we made earlier.

I might tell my students “Remember to study for your test,” or “Remember to do your homework.”

When we remember doing something—remember + a gerund— that means we have that picture in our heads. We can see ourselves doing that thing in the past. For example, I might say to my best friend, “Remember camping on the beach last summer?” “Remember making a bonfire on the beach and watching the sunset?”

Recall is a synonym for remember + gerund.

You probably recall what you did on your last birthday or how you celebrated your graduation.

remember forget finger-hand-string-tied-red-knot-forget-do-not-bow-english-eslKeep in mind suggests remembering something in order to complete a task or make a decision.

For example, when you give a presentation, you have to keep in mind what you want to say. When you are trying to choose a mate, you have to keep in mind the things you value in a life-partner. When you buy something, you have to keep your bank balance in mind. (Notice that keep in mind is a separable verb. The object can go between keep and the adverbial in mind.)

When we are or feel nostalgic, we miss the past.

We wish we could return to those lost happy moments. For example, old people might feel nostalgic about their youth, or people who have just ended relationships might be nostalgic about the happy times they spent with their exes.

When we regret something in the past, we wish it could have been different than it was.

For example, maybe you studied engineering but regret not having studied art. Perhaps you arranged for your vacation to last only two weeks. Looking back, you wish you had made it longer. You regret how short you made it.

When we hold a grudge, we carry around resentful or angry feelings about the past—we think that someone treated us unfairly.

If you lose a sports match, the next time you play that team, you might hold a grudge against them. If your break-up with your romantic partner was messy, you might hold a grudge against them for having been cruel and insensitive.

Movies often make use of flashbacks.

That is when a character suddenly thinks about the past, or when the movie shifts from the present moment to a past moment. Soldiers might have flashbacks about their wartime experiences. If they hear a loud noise, they might flash back to a time when they were being bombed.

Finally, when we travel, we often bring back souvenirs from our trip.

These are keepsakes that help us remember our trip. In fact, the word “souvenir” is the French word that means remember. We might bring back crafts, clothing, flags, or food from a particular country in which we have traveled. A keepsake is also something that someone gives us so that we remember them. Your grandpa might give you a watch as a keepsake. Your grandma might give you a ring or a necklace.

forget-forgotten-dont-verb-stone-wall-plaque-english-eslWhen we forget to do something, we don’t complete the task that we planned.

I’m sure you have forgotten to do your homework or forgotten to buy eggs.

In contrast, if we forget doing something, we did it, but have no memory of it.

Perhaps we got very drunk and forgot saying something ridiculous. Perhaps we’re old and forgot meeting someone many years ago.

Not recall + noun (or) gerund is a synonym for forget + gerund.

The drunk person doesn’t recall saying the foolish thing. The old person doesn’t recall meeting someone at the party.

We can use the expression “It slipped my mind” to mean “I forgot (…)”

For example, “I had to go to the bank, but it slipped my mind.” “I meant to do my homework, but it slipped my mind.” “I used to know the vocabulary word for that, but it slipped my mind.”

Woman studying

We can also use the phrasal verb blank on.

We often blank on something in a moment of stress. For example, during a test, you might blank on the answer. When you are trying to introduce a person to your friend, you might blank on the person’s name.

Practice: Try to use these new expressions to answer the following questions.

  1. What have you remembered to do today? Is there anything that you have forgotten?
  1. What do you remember about your childhood? What have you forgotten?
  1. What makes you feel nostalgic?
  1. Do you have any regrets about the past?
  1. Is there anyone that you are holding a grudge against? Why?
  1. What are some of your favorite souvenirs?
  1. Has anyone ever given you a keepsake?
  1. Have you ever blanked on something important?
  1. Have you ever had a flashback to a difficult or embarrassing moment? What happened?

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