When I don't remember the name of something, can I say like this?

  1. I don't remember the name of it.

  2. I don't remember how it is called

  3. I don't remember what it is called.

  4. I don't remember what it is called as.

  5. I don't remember what I should call it as.

I think all of these are possible but I want to know the best choice.

  • Get rid of each as and your sentences will be fine, although the how it is called might not be very idiomatic.
    – Vlammuh
    Aug 13, 2015 at 11:10
  • Just use "whatchamacallit" or "thingamajig". On a more serious note, #2 and #3 are most acceptable, I think. Aug 13, 2015 at 14:47
  • I vote for #3 as most common in AmE. Nov 8, 2015 at 12:07

3 Answers 3


I'll address each sentence

  1. Fine, but I would say "I don't remember its name."
  2. Understandable English, but very unnatural sounding.
  3. Best choice
  4. As MsTiggy said, you don't need the as, although it is perfectly fine English to end a sentence with a preposition. Usually as is used in a comparative situation, and you aren't making a comparison here, so there's no reason to say it.
  5. See #4, but I would also add that the should is entirely optional, and saying I don't remember what to call it is also perfectly grammatical. Saying should implies that there is some sort of directive establishing what you should call it, but you don't remember what it is. For example:

    I don't remember what I should call a professor who doesn't have a Ph.D.

In this case, the directive is courtesy, but it could also go for

I don't remember what I should call Caitlyn Jenner


4 and 5 are incorrect. You don't need the "as" and it is (arguably) incorrect grammar to end a sentence with a preposition.

2 might be technically correct, but it doesn't sound right. I don't think a native speaker would ever use the phrase "how it is called" that way.

You don't need the "of it" at the end of 1, but it's not incorrect.

Alternatively, "can't" could replace "don't" in any of those sentences and it would still be correct - they are perfectly interchangeable in this case.

Another common phrases for expressing the same thing is "I can't think of the word/name."


Phrasing I hear a lot is "what's this called" and "I forgot the name". (Ellipses indicate pausing while the question is answered.)

I need to hook the -- what's this called? ... Thanks, I need to hook the pipe to the sink.

I forgot the name. What's the thing you use to clean your teeth? ... Right, I need a new toothbrush while you're at the store.

I also hear "how do you say?" a lot (and the less-correct "how you say?").

I want to -- how do you say? I need to make it move ... Yes, I want to turn it on.

Technically, this should be "How do you say 'I need to make it move'?", with the question at the end of the sentence. But many times it seems more natural to use the inflection to end the sentence fragment, then start a new sentence describing what you want. Partially, this is because the early inflection more accurately describes your thought process of having a question first, then declaring the articulation of the question second. But it's also to be clear you want to translate a statement, not a question.

So I'm sure the grammarians cringe at that third example, but it seems fine to me.

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