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  1. Unregistered
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    #1

    Question Forget

    My friend and I are having a debate about the usage of the word 'forget.' Please help us figure out the correct way to use it given the following scenario that occurred this morning.

    My friend was telling me a story about an experience he had had with a friend long ago. I asked him what his friend's name was. He couldn't remember so his reply was, "I forget."

    I disagree with his use of 'forget' here because it is in the present simple tense which seems to imply that forgetting is something he does all the time. He disagrees claiming that the use of 'forget' is correct because it is something that is happening in the present.

    Is his use of "I forget" correct?

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #2

    Re: Forget

    I forget, present tense, is synonymous with I don't remember:

    A: "What was your friend's name?"
    B: "I forget/I don't remember."

    Does that help?
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    #3

    Re: Forget

    Although some people say "forget" in the situation you described, I think "forgot" is much better.
    Your friend's reason for using "forget" is not convincing; if it is happening in the present, why doesn't (s)he say 'I am forgetting'. The fact is that (s)he forgot his old friend's name.
    You are right that "forget" is used for an action repeated over a period of time, as in, I almost always forget names.

    ps I don't agree that 'I don't remember.' and 'I forget' are synomymous. In your situation, if I don't remember, I forgot. (a completed action)
    Last edited by 2006; 04-May-2007 at 19:11.

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #4

    Re: Forget

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    Although some people say "forget" in the situation you described, I think "forgot" is much better.
    What about?

    A: "What was your friend's name?"
    B: Thinking it over quickly"I forget (at the moment, but give it time and it might--or might not--come to me)."

    What are your thoughts?

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    #5

    Re: Forget

    hi Casiopea

    I don't like "What was your friend's name?"; it carries the suggestion that the name was changed. While that question wouldn't be a problem for native speakers, with English students it may be confusing.
    I would answer that 'I forgot.', but it is possible I will remember again later.

    I guess the question is, what kind of English should be taught to English learners, especially when learners of all levels are reading what we write. The lower level students may well be confused with 'nongrammatical' native speak.

    What are your thoughts about my last comment? (last paragraph)
    Last edited by 2006; 04-May-2007 at 19:45.

  4. bianca's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Forget

    Hi there


    I understand Casiopeas use of informal English since she is a native speaker (I presume), and one thing I've noticed even with some Swedish teachers teaching Swedish (including me), that they often use the so-called "acquired" or colloquial language instead of the academic one while communicating. Students of English often claim that it suffices that they manage to get their message across, or that they've heard a certain phrase or expression used by native speakers, so that must be right. I understand that, too, and they are probably right to a certain point, but with today's society, clarity in communication is paramount.
    Last edited by bianca; 04-May-2007 at 20:05.

  5. Unregistered
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    #7

    Question Forget (cont'd)

    Sorry for posting a new thread; apparently I do "not have sufficient privileges" to reply directly from the original post.

    I sent my friend (the one with whom I am having this disagreement with) a link to this forum, and this was his reply:


    "I think Casiopea captures my use. Casiopea is making a fine distinction about the issue of time and the unique nature of what goes on in the mind of a speaker attempting to recall something in the moment. In that moment, I came to realize that I could not remember, but it is possible that recall it later. Hence, the use of “forget” is applicable.

    "Now, several hours past that moment, it would be correct to say that when you asked what my friend’s name is (“is” as opposed to “was,” which removes the indeterminacy of whether the name has changed), I forgot.

    "To use the present perfect at the time when I was attempting to recall would not be accurate because the present perfect is defined as (referring to the links): 1) unfinished past actions, 2) past actions when time is not specified, 3) when a past action is relevant now.

    "On the other hand, getting back to the nature of recollection, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to say that I am “forgetting.” It’s a type of recollection that is irreducible. Over time, one could forget the plot of a movie seen some time ago. In that sense, that person would be forgetting the [entirety] of the movie (forgetting more of it over time). Or, if the name was an integral part of the entire story, then I could be “forgetting,” but again it wouldn’t be in the sense of purely the name.

    "In my view, when I fail to recall an atomic fact (one that is irreducible); it’s a binary state of affairs. Either I recall the entirety or I don’t. I do not perceive it to be a progressive process. Therefore, forgetting was not an appropriate use available to me at the time I was asked. Running or baking a cake is something that forces one to use the present progressive.

    "I think the present perfect would be appropriate when I say, “I have forgotten the entirety of the movie,” because I have already done so and realized it when I was asked, but I could add to that statement, “…and I am forgetting more of it as time passes.” "

  6. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #8

    Re: Forget

    Hello, all.

    Well, there's more to it than tense.

    Semantics, for one:

    Speakers might use forget when the reason for having not remembered something, especially a word, a phrase, a sentence, or a person's name is not a matter of neglect, or as one person puts it, not a matter of carelessness. In other words, using forgot could imply that the speaker is admitting a fault, so the speaker opts for present tense forget, which expresses a statement of present fact.


    Speaker interpretation, for two:

    Question: What was your friend's name? (Interpreted as, Do you remember your friend's name?)

    Reply: (No, I don't remember.) I forget <tense consistency>


    Timing (or when the event occurs), for three:

    I forget exactly when I arrived. <at the moment>
    I forgot exactly when I arrived. <then>

    The second one could be awkward, at least according to one speaker, who adds, "I'd be confused and I'd want to ask you if you had amnesia."

    In order to know which tense to use, either present forget or past forgot, we need to know what the speaker had in mind at the time of speaking. And, in the case of Unregistered's friend, we know what he was thinking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    He disagrees claiming that the use of 'forget' is correct because it is something that is happening at the present.
    Ah, so now we know.

    2006, in answer to your question, a great one at that, and dare I say a "loaded" question too, I for one teach everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. What about you?

    All the best.
    Last edited by Casiopea; 04-May-2007 at 22:10.

  7. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #9

    Re: Forget

    Please note that, I have merged Unregistered's threads, both the new one (See post #7) and the present one (which is why my post (#8) seems out of sync--it doesn't address Unregistered's recent post #7, which I will get to, soon).
    Last edited by Casiopea; 04-May-2007 at 22:13.

  8. Unregistered
    Guest
    #10

    Question Forget (...once more)

    Casiopea,

    What do you think about having used "I have forgotten" instead?

    Question: What is your friend's name?
    Answer: (I knew at some point in the past, but) I have forgotten (at this moment).

    Is that more or less correct than "I forget"?


    Hmmm, however, the more I think about this, the more I am conflicted about the appropriateness of the word forget/forgot in this situation. It seems that what occurred in the mind of my friend this morning when I asked him what his friend's name was, was that he just couldn't remember it. It is not that he forgot it at any particular moment (including now); rather, it is simply that he could not 'recall' it (at that moment).

    Ugh, I'm not sure if that is deviating too far from the original question and delving too far into the specific meaning of the words.

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