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I forgot if we have ever talked about this.

Simply, I'm trying to tell a friend that I don't remember if we have discussed a topic, and this is what sounds best to my ear. But Google doesn't yield a lot of hits for either "I forgot if we ever" or "I forgot if we have"

I forgot if we ever talked about this.

also sounds perfectly fine. But why can't I get usage confirmation using Google? These seem to be very common phrasing. Or are there more idiomatic ways to say this?

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  • Please provide more detail to explain "Google doesn't yield a lot of hits". I got many tens of thousands of hits in Google, which seems like a lot to me. Feb 4, 2023 at 2:18
  • @MarcInManhattan An exact phrase search for "I forgot if we ever" gives me "26 results". For "I forgot if we have ever", I get exactly 1 hit. "I forgot if we've ever" 0. "I forgot if we have" 47. But funnily enough, I opened an incognito window and did the exact same searches, the count for "I forgot if we ever" jumped to 4,460, and 55,900 for "I forgot if we have." It seems to be Google playing with numbers again. On top of that, the top search results are exactly the same. If I'm not mistaken Google has been criticized for inflating numbers.
    – desmo
    Feb 4, 2023 at 3:01
  • Yeah, so Google's web search might not be the best indicator of how popular a phrase is unless you really know what results you're actually getting. (FWIW, I also got different results in Chrome vs. Brave.) Feb 4, 2023 at 13:19
  • Google search doesn’t index every written text in the world and it doesn’t index speech; it only provides search results for public text on the Internet. It is not a good tool to use to try to determine is something is common or idiomatic in English. A better tool is their Ngram viewer, but that also has its limitations.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 18, 2023 at 13:36

1 Answer 1

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Your two sentences aren't quite right. They should be either

I have forgotten that we ever talked about this.
or
I forget if we ever talked about this.

Both mean much the same. Using forgot implies that the action of forgetting was in the past and you now remember. What you are trying to say is that the process of forgetting continues to the present, you still can't remember what was said.

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  • But the first one doesn't seem to be what I'm trying to say here. "I have forgotten that we ever talked about this" suggests it is a fact that "we talked about this" and I have simply forgotten that fact, which is not the same thing as "if we ever talked about this". Also using "forget" in the simple present suggests a habitual event or tendency.
    – desmo
    Feb 4, 2023 at 3:03
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    @desmo I agree that the present simple "I forget" sounds odd, but it is idiomatic, at least in US English.
    – stangdon
    Feb 4, 2023 at 3:14
  • For the first example, maybe "I've forgotten if we've ever talked about this."
    – Zwuwdz
    Feb 4, 2023 at 5:25
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    "I forget" doesn't imply a habitual bad memory. It just means that at this moment I'm unable to remember. Feb 4, 2023 at 7:31
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    @stangdon Yes, and in BrE too. Feb 4, 2023 at 10:43

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