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    #1

    Why is forget often listed as a state verb?

    Hello,

    I have my doubts about "forget" being a state verb as is often stated in textbooks and other materials.

    "Forget" does not refer to a state, but to an action. Forgetting can even be a gradual process taking a long time (continuum, where in the middle you remember only 50% of the information).

    Another evidence indicating that "forget" is not a state verb is that you can say "He's always forgetting something!". State verbs are not normally used with continuous aspect.

    So why is "forget" often listed as state verb, when it obviously refers to action (or even a long process) and not to a state?

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Why is forget often listed as a state verb?

    Quote Originally Posted by echelon View Post
    Hello,

    I have my doubts about "forget" being a state verb as is often stated in textbooks and other materials.

    "Forget" does not refer to a state, but to an action. Forgetting can even be a gradual process taking a long time (continuum, where in the middle you remember only 50% of the information).

    Another evidence indicating that "forget" is not a state verb is that you can say "He's always forgetting something!". State verbs are not normally used with continuous aspect.

    So why is "forget" often listed as state verb, when it obviously refers to action (or even a long process) and not to a state?
    Many of the verbs listed under stative verbs can be used in this way. Most good grammar books will say that they are not usually used in continuous tenses. "Usually", of course, implies that sometimes they are.
    I guess it's listed to stop students producing sentences like:
    I was forgetting all the answers, so I failed the exam.
    I'm sorry, but I'm forgetting your name.


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    #3

    Re: Why is forget often listed as a state verb?

    The point I'm trying to make is that "forget" does not refer to a state but to an action. That should be obvious.

    So why is "forget" often included in lists of state verbs? I claim that it is incorrect to do so.


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    #4

    Re: Why is forget often listed as a state verb?

    Well, I can tell you that the verb forget does sometimes refer to a condition in which the speaker is unable to recall something. For example:

    "Hey, I met our new supervisor this morning. I forget his name now, but he seemed like a pretty nice guy."

    This is common, everyday English. It's equivalent to saying "I am currently in a state in which I am unable to recall his name."

    The speaker could easily have said "I forgot his name." That would refer to an action. However, he didn't say that. He used simple present tense to refer to his current state of being unable to remember a specific fact.

    I don't know if this sheds any light on your question, but this usage sure feels "state-like" to me.

    Greg

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    #5

    Re: Why is forget often listed as a state verb?

    Quote Originally Posted by echelon View Post
    The point I'm trying to make is that "forget" does not refer to a state but to an action. That should be obvious.

    So why is "forget" often included in lists of state verbs? I claim that it is incorrect to do so.
    No, when we say "I forget" that refers to the state of no longer remembering. Otherwise we'd say "I have forgotten."


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    #6

    Re: Why is forget often listed as a state verb?

    Quote Originally Posted by echelon View Post
    The point I'm trying to make is that "forget" does not refer to a state but to an action. That should be obvious.

    So why is "forget" often included in lists of state verbs? I claim that it is incorrect to do so.
    Some verbs are both stative and progressive, or action verbs. Speaking only of "forget", let's look at a couple examples.

    salesman one: I couldn't believe it! I forgot his name! He's one of our most important customers.

    saleswoman one: Well, you have to get that under control. It seems that you often forget people's names. (This is habitual and repetitive. Therefore, we use the simple present, which is "forget" or "forgets". It would be possible to intensify the action by saying "You're always forgetting people's names".)

    salesman one is leaving: Okay, I have to get going now. I have an appointment at one.

    saleswoman one: Hey, wait a minute. Aren't you forgetting something? (The progressive form is really all that's possible here. It would hardly be logical to say "Do you forget something?")

    salesman one: No, what am I forgetting?

    saleswoman one: The samples and the proposal? They're in this folder.

    salesman one: Oh yes... Thank you. See you later.

    saleswoman one: See you later.

    Conclusion: Use your grammar books; they're practical guides; but observe how native speakers of English use English and come prepared with your questions when you have a class or a lesson. It's also practical to observe how native speakers of English use English. A balanced approach is a good and practical approach.


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    #7

    Re: Why is forget often listed as a state verb?

    Quote Originally Posted by dragn View Post
    "Hey, I met our new supervisor this morning. I forget his name now, but he seemed like a pretty nice guy."

    This is common, everyday English.
    Well, in that case it would really be a state verb. I agree.

    However, how common is that really? I think it's rather rare. What appears to be common in those situations is "I can't/don't remember/recall his name." or simply "I forgot his name" or "I've forgotten his name"...

    Anyhow, thanks for the answers.


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    #8

    Re: Why is forget often listed as a state verb?

    Quote Originally Posted by echelon View Post
    Well, in that case it would really be a state verb. I agree.

    However, how common is that really? I think it's rather rare. What appears to be common in those situations is "I can't/don't remember/recall his name." or simply "I forgot his name" or "I've forgotten his name"...

    Anyhow, thanks for the answers.
    This is possible, however.

    Why are you always forgetting his name?

    As I said, the progressive form is possible to intensify the action of "forgetting".

    Why do you always forget his name. - The simple form is usual and typical.


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    #9

    Re: Why is forget often listed as a state verb?

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post

    saleswoman one: Hey, wait a minute. Aren't you forgetting something? (The progressive form is really all that's possible here. It would hardly be logical to say "Do you forget something?")
    Just to add something. It's perfectly logical for some languages, Japanese for example, and this results in their inappropriately using the simple present for these one time events.

    saleswoman one could also use,

    "Haven't you forgotten something" but it's more formal and more serious sounding.


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    #10

    Re: Why is forget often listed as a state verb?

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    Just to add something. It's perfectly logical for some languages, Japanese for example, and this results in their inappropriately using the simple present for these one time events.

    saleswoman one could also use,

    "Haven't you forgotten something" but it's more formal and more serious sounding.
    That's a good point. By contrast, "have you forgotten something" might be less likely among friendly sales colleagues. This is, to me, is taking account of register. Simply choosing the present perfect over the present progressive can create a different tone.

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