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The expression "Keep something in mind" appeared in a text I was editing about conflict resolution in the office. The sentence in which this appeared was "When you find yourself dealing with conflict in the workplace, there are a few things to keep in mind." My colleagues wanted to define this for students and chose "remember" as a suitable synonym. I rejected this and suggested "take into consideration," or "to think about."

"Remember" was selected by popular opinion, and later when a student was asked to use this expression in a sentence the student gave "When you driving a car it is important to keep the rules in mind." I asked the student to explain this and he said that you must remember the rules, and said that he made the sentence based on the definition given.

The way I see it, "remember" is not a process but more of an instantaneous action. You think and then the information comes to you. To keep something in mind means that when making a decision or doing something you need to use some information so it is kept in active memory. For example, a chef needs to keep in mind the sharpness of his tools while cutting otherwise he will cut himself.

Is "remember" a suitable definition for "to keep in mind?"

  • You are correct. In general, and maybe especially for a process like conflict resolution, "keep in mind" would refer to information always serving as context or guidance against which situations are analyzed. "Remember" would refer to something specific that should be applied to a particular situation. In practice, though, especially in conversational speech, the two are used a little more interchangeably. "Remember" would be used in an example like the one you gave to be shorthand for "always remember", i.e., recall it whenever it is applicable, which is pretty close to "keep in mind". – fixer1234 Apr 24 '17 at 6:47
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Your understanding is correct.

Keep in mind more leans toward meaning to keep something in memory that can be recalled for a specific later use or process that will occur soon.

Remember simply means to keep something in memory, or to keep something in memory that cal be recalled for a general later use or "just in case."

Remember the emergency phone number. ("Just in case" - there's no emergency and we don't expect one. But you never know.)

Keep in mind the emergency phone number. (We're doing something dangerous and need this information on standby.)

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I think that "keep in mind" always has more-or-less the same meaning of "Be constantly aware" but "remember" has many uses.

I remember that very well

Remember who you are

I suddenly remembered that

I will always remember that evening

Why cant you ever remember what I tell you?

and Im sure that there are more. Substituting "keep in mind" for any of my "remembers" would at the least sound rather odd in any of these examples

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Keep in mind that you should buy flowers for your wife's birthday. Remember that you should buy flowers for your wife's birthday. In the first case, you come home and give her the flowers. In the second case, you come home and tell her that you should have bought flowers.

"Keep in mind" means actively considering and acting on knowledge that you remember, while "remember" just means that you store the information away and recall it later.

In case of conflict resolution: "Keep in mind that Jim hit his colleague" - you have to watch out, because Jim might try to hit you as well. "Remember that Jim hit his colleague" - important when you fill out a police report about an assault.

  • In colloquial usage, every single one of your examples would be idiomatically expressed with "remember" to have essentially the same meanings as the ones you assigned only to "keep in mind". – Nathan Tuggy Jan 9 '18 at 21:19

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