I learned English in school, but I forgot most of it.

So, this is a question that I saw and the correct answer is "I learned English in school, but I have forgotten most of it." However, I do not understand why the former sentence is grammatically incorrect. I tried searching for it, but I could not find it or understand. Someone has asked this as a fill in the blanks on this site but I am looking for the reason and not a yes/no type answer.

  • 2
    Why do you think it is incorrect? Most English speakers would think that was fine. – Daniel Roseman Jul 18 at 18:31
  • @DanielRoseman I don't know why it is incorrect. That is why I am asking. – rukuto Jul 18 at 18:33
  • 3
    It's not incorrect. Who told you that it was, and what reason did they give? – Jason Bassford Jul 18 at 19:00
  • @JasonBassford It was in a quiz. And because they did not give reasons, that is why I am here asking. The quiz time has not ended so I have not asked it yet but I can't stop thinking about it. – rukuto Jul 18 at 21:01
  • Just because a quiz gives one 'correct' answer doesn't make any other answer 'incorrect'. I would often give part of a mark for any answer which was grammatically correct and made sense, but wasn't the 'expected/usual/natural' answer. – Sydney Jul 18 at 23:15

It isn't grammatically incorrect, but most people (British speakers, at any rate) would use have forgotten of something they can no longer remember.

We would use forgot only if a particular time period was mentioned. I forgot it long ago. I forgot it when I started to learn German later on.

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  • So, I also asked on reddit and someone there answered that it is wrong because "learned" and "forgot" are both in the past tense, thereby implying that you learned and forgot at the same time. That is why we use have forgotten to imply that you learned something in the past but now you don't remember. – rukuto Jul 18 at 21:04
  • Another person there said that, with the current average English speakers, both are correct but they can be used in different situations. So if you learned something previously and it is relevant to the situation when the sentence is issued, then you use "have forgotten". If it is just a passing sentence or a statement, then you use "forgot". (I don't know how correct this is though). But yes, I think mentioning time is better when we use forgot. (I learned English in school, but I forgot most of it in my college years.) – rukuto Jul 18 at 21:09
  • @rukuto Just because two things happened in the past doesn't mean they happened at the same time in the past. This is just like how mentioning two things happening in the future doesn't mean they will both happen at the same time in the future. English doesn't work like that. – Jason Bassford Jul 18 at 22:39
  • I agree that commonly a contrast between simple past ("learned") and present perfect ("have forgotten") is used for two past events that occurred at different times. Claiming that not doing so is "wrong" is wrong. It is a choice. – epl Jul 19 at 8:44

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