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Recently, I came across this use of the phrase: not that I remember. I have not encountered such use before. I have always come across the classic use of the phrase: I don't remember. Is there any difference between the classic phrase I don't remember and the recently met not that I remember?

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"Not that I remember" is always used as a standalone response to something said before, and is more emphatic than "I don't remember," meaning something like "at least I don't remember":

A. Have you ever seen this man?

B. Not that I remember. (Perhaps I saw him, but now I don't remember.)

"I don't remember" does not carry that "at least" connotation, and can be followed by an object.

A. Have you ever seen this man?

B. I don't remember seeing him before.

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  • That is, the phrase: "I don't remember" - has a confident character of statement. On the contrary, the phrase: "not that I remember" - has an uncertain character (maybe yes or maybe not). Right? – MaximPro Dec 13 '19 at 22:44
  • @MaximPro Exactly. "Not that I remember" would be equivalent to "No, as far as I rembember". It leaves room for the person not remembering correctly and therefore for the answer being wrong. – Gustavson Dec 13 '19 at 22:48
  • What do you mean by that:"...and therefore for the answer being wrong"? – MaximPro Dec 13 '19 at 22:51
  • @MaximPro I mean that, by saying "Not that I remember", the person is kind of excusing themselves from perhaps not giving an accurate answer. – Gustavson Dec 14 '19 at 0:19
  • Ahh, ok. It makes sense. – MaximPro Dec 14 '19 at 1:50
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The standalone "I don't remember" in response to a question means you don't know the answer. Conversely, "not that I remember" means something is false as far as you know, but could still be true unbeknownst to you. Its affirmative counterpart would be "as far as I remember."

Some related phrases mirror this distinction:

I don't know if he was at the party. (I claim no knowledgeability on this subject.)

I don't know that he was at the party. (It's possible that he was at the party, but I haven't seen or heard anything to indicate that he was, so I lean toward the assumption that he wasn't.)

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