Learn English – Forget versus Forgot


I have read the previous questions and comments about "forget and forgot" but none has enlightened me with what's on my mind.

We were once corrected by our Communication Trainer when we used "forgot." He said we only use "forgot" if you are referring to a tangible thing that you have forgotten. On the other hand, we use "forget" for abstract or non-tangible things, like "I forget your name." Is there any rule or principle behind this from native speakers' point of view? Alternately, did our Communication Trainer simplify his instructions for our benefit, or was he mistaken, or did we misunderstand?

Best Answer

Your Communication Trainer is wrong.

'Forgot' is the past tense of 'forget', and that is the only difference between them.

So "I forget your name" means that right now I am forgetting (i.e. not remembering) your name. "I forgot your name" means that your name went out of my memory at some point in the past - so "I was going to add you to the invitation list, but I forgot your name." You could say to someone you are meeting "I forgot your name", meaning that you used to know it but at some point you forgot it. Most native speakers would say "I have forgotten your name" in those circumstances, but 'forgot' is not wrong.

The difference between tangible and intangible things is irrelevant.