My grammar book says Simple Present can be used with some certain verbs in Indefinite Past

For example,

"I forget what he said"

Is there any difference between

"I forgot what he said" and "I forget what he said"

Because Simple past can also express "Uncertain Past" in this case

  • 2
    You need to consider the context around such statement.
    – user3169
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 17:28
  • @user3169 would you mind to give a context example when can I say "I forget what he said" instead of "I forgot what he said"
    – Phil
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 4:51

1 Answer 1


In spoken English, "I forget" is most commonly used as a very informal way of saying "I forgot". This is very common in casual conversation:

A: Do we have homework this week?

B: I don't know, I forget what the teacher said.

You could use "I forget (x)" to indicate that you always or habitually forget something, but then you would want to use the present tense in the inner clause, and probably use some modifier, like always:

John is such an unmemorable speaker. I always forget what he says.

"I forget what he said" could mean that you habitually forget one thing that he said at a particular time in the past: e.g.

I always forget what John said on that one August night. He gave me some advice, but I can never remember it.

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