In this lesson, you’ll learn 7 English phrases that you can use in conversation to explain that you forget something.
We all forget things. It happens to everyone. It can be embarrassing sometimes. Let’s quickly review the basic ways to say you forget something:
I can’t remember.
I don’t remember.
I’m sorry I wasn’t at the meeting. I forgot about it.
We forget things in different ways, and in English there are different phrases you can use to communicate that you forget something.
1. “I lost my train of thought.”
lose your train of thought
= forget what you were thinking, right in the middle of thinking about it
A “train of thought” = a connected series of thoughts or ideas in your head
You’re telling someone a story or about an idea you had, but you get distracted, or you are interrupted by something, and you forget what you were talking about.
What was I saying? I lost my train of thought.
I was in the middle of telling a story, but the phone rang and I lost my train of thought.
2. “It slipped my mind.”
slip one’s mind
= forget something
I can’t believe I forgot her birthday. It completely slipped my mind!
We had a meeting at 1pm today. Did it slip your mind?
He forgot to get some milk at the grocery store. I guess it just slipped his mind.
Pronunciation note: Remember, the -ed at the of slipped is pronounced /t/. The -ed is not pronounced as a separate syllable.
3. “It’s on the tip of my tongue!”
be on the tip of one’s tongue
You know that you know something, but you can’t remember it at that moment!
I know this! I know this! It’s on the tip of my tongue! His name is … oh, I can’t remember!
Wait. Don’t tell me. I know this song. The name is on the tip of my tongue!
Learn more: 5 Useful English Phrases to Say When You are Late
4. “It doesn’t ring a bell.”
ring a bell
= something is familiar, but you can’t completely remember it
His name rings a bell, but I can’t remember what he looks like.
Have you seen that new TV show, the one about the married couple?
~ It doesn’t ring a bell.
= it doesn’t sound familiar, I don’t recognize it
5. “It went in one ear and out the other.”
go in one ear and out the other
= forget something as soon as you hear it, forget something quickly
You are listening to someone speaking, but you are not really listening carefully. When the other person says something, you hear it but you don’t remember it.
He told me is his name, but it went in one ear & out the other.
She won’t remember. Everything you tell her goes in one ear and out the other!
I’m sorry. I didn’t hear what you said. It went in one ear and out the other. I’m very distracted today.
Be careful! This is not a nice thing to say to someone, because you are saying that you aren’t paying attention to him or her!
6. “Can you refresh my memory?”
refresh one’s memory
= help someone remember something
It doesn’t ring a bell. Can you refresh my memory?
I have to read my notes again from the previous meeting to refresh my memory.
Be careful! “Let me refresh your memory” is a common phrase, but it can have a negative meaning. People like to forget bad or negative experiences. Sometimes people say “let me refresh your memory” in an angry way to make someone remember something negative.
“You don’t remember me? Let me refresh your memory. You stole my phone!“
7. “I had a senior moment.”
have a senior moment
(usually said by older people)
= a humorous way of saying that you momentarily can’t remember something simple because you are getting older
You can blame forgetting something on your age!
A senior citizen is an older person, usually someone who is 65 or older. (Sixty-five is the official retirement age in many countries.) Senior is often used by itself as a shortened form of senior citizen.
I had a senior moment. I forgot what my new car looked like and I spent 20 minutes looking for it in the parking lot.
I had a senior moment yesterday. I thought my brother was my son.
People like to joke that they are getting old when they are 30 or 40 years old. Sometimes a young person will say “I had a senior moment” or “I’m having a senior moment” as a way to say that they are getting old.
Do you have any fun expressions in your language to say you forget something? Share them in the comments below!
These two Are my “Bible” : sorry, it slipped my mind, i had a senior moment !????
Fun expression in spanish: el que no tiene cabeza tiene pies – translate as: ” He who hasn’t head has feet ” when you forget something and have go back for it.
Hi, Julio! I like that expression!
I think there is a similar expression in English:
“I’d forget my head if it wasn’t attached” – meaning that you are terrible at remembering things and you always forget something, like your keys or your phone!
Have a great week,
I like it
Hilali Ali zuberi says
Hi thanks for teach us good blesse you
Wowwwwww a truly important lesson ????
I’m happy to hear that! Thanks!
Thanks again for the tips. That I have, My memory is short, o maybe, I could say, I have teflon in my brain, I do not memorize anyghing .All times I forget my English lessons. Those examples sound like in spanish too.
Thank you very much for this useful lesson.
No problem! I’m happy to help.
Alair Ferreira Rodrigues says
Great, Great lesson.
Thank you! I’m happy that you enjoyed it.
José Reyes says
I have just included them in my vocabulary. And I am looking forward to telling them to my students. Thank you.
Thank u teacher Melanie.
Cheikh SOW says
Great lesson ! Thanks a lot !
An equivalent of “It’s on the tip of my tongue!” in French is “Je l’ai sur le bout de la langue !”
That’s awesome! I had never heard that expression in French!
In Spanish is “Lo tengo en la punta de la lengua’. It is a similar expression!
A train of phrases help to refresh my memory else get into my ear and out of the other may have senior memory soon.
Almost, but not quite!
You can’t have a “train of phrases.” That’s not an English expression.
“Go in one ear and out the other” is a fixed expression. You can’t change it to “get.”
A “senior moment” is also a fixed expression. You can’t change it to a “senior memory.”
Very useful. .
I’m happy to hear that! Thank you.
Great lesson. Thanks a lot.
No problem! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Geraldo Barboza says
All your lessons are always great … Thank you for all your hard work in helping all of us!
We all appreciate your help!!!
I’m happy to hear that, Geraldo! Thank you for making my day! : )
this are really helpful Mam…can u give me tips of how to improve my english…i am weak in many aspects…grammer..vocabulary..etc
Johnson Lo says
I’m an old man, older than 70. Sometimes I forget the names of my new friends. “It went in one ear and out the other.” There is an expression in Chinese : “左耳入，右耳出.” It means that” the voice come into the left ear and out the right ear.”
Thank you very much for your lesson. It is funny.
I’m glad you enjoyed the lesson, Johnson! That’s interesting that you have the same expression in Chinese! It’s a small world. Now, whenever you forget the names of your new friends, you can just say “I’m having a senior moment” and everything will be OK!
They are great.I’m going to use them in different situations.
Thank you for your attention
I’m happy to hear that, Javad!
Mohit Raj says
It was very wonderful lesson…
It refreshed my memory otherwise I was having senior moments…;-)
Thank you, Mohit! I hope you don’t have too many senior moments! : )
As always with useful lessons, peope who want to learn English need teacher like you.
Thank you Mrs. Melanie.
In my country when someone can’t remember what he/she was saying, we say playfully to him/her that he/she was lying :D
That’s funny, Lavdim! I’m happy that you enjoyed this lesson!
Cinthia Ferreira says
Hello, Melanie! I’m happy you’re here again. Thanks for these helpful tips.
No problem, Cinthia! I’m happy these tips are helpful!
nice! thank you for every
No problem, Saciid! I’m glad you liked the lesson!
Helpful lesson. I usually prefer using ‘…slipped my mind’. Hope to hear from you soon, thank you indeed!
Thank you, Jean! I’m happy to hear that this lesson was helpful to you!
very good lesson…thank Melanie.
You’re welcome, Wida! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Asela Kuruwita says
Very useful and commonly used phrases.
I’m happy to hear that, Asela! :)
Thank you , Melanie. You are the best. Phrases are very useful. I may lose my train of thought due to excitement, when the tourists want me to help. That case bugs me but I know how to phrase anymore and These phrases will serve my purpose and that It is on the tip of my tongue means ” dilimin ucunda” in Turkish… I am looking forward to seeing your new phrases.. take care of yourself…
Thank you for your kind words, Ahmet! I’m happy to hear the phrases are useful to you. I love how many languages have the same expression “It’s on the tip of my tongue!” : )
Time Xie says
there are very usefule phrases in common expression for me,thank you!
That’s great to hear! Thank you!
Daniel Vargas says
Hello Teacher Melanie thanks for your help. May God bless you for everything you do every day for us.
Here are the traslations for these two sentences you sent:
1) It went in one ear and out the other = “entra por un oido y sale por el otro”, but in my country you use this one when you give advise or you give an order to somebody and this person do no obey or do not t take your words into account…
2) It’s on the tip of my tongue = “lo tengo en la punta de la lengua”
Here is a new one:
“Ahora que dices Burra me acordé de mi comadre” = Now that you say “jenny” I remembered my godmother. The difference is that you use this phrase when somebody says something that remembers you something you haven’t done as yet, something you forgot to do, but you had to do.
I hope this is helpful, thanks.
This is fantastic, Daniel! Thank you for sharing these great Spanish expressions! I really like the last expression. I wish we had something similar in English. The only similar expression I can think of is “That reminds me, …” but the Spanish expression sounds better!
Thank you for your help with these phrases my students from Colombia love it.
I’m so happy to hear that, Dora!
I love those expressions because I’ve been looking for them and I found it. It indeed happens in my daily life as well. Thanks
You’re welcome, Bontot! I am happy that you finally found what you were looking for!
Maung Oo Than Shwe says
Thank you this is wonderful phrase.
Awesome! I’m glad this information is useful to you!
Imron Tani says
Teacher Melanie…I love you…you are so smart!
Come on…! come to Indonesia and teach us your language.
You are so sweet! Thank you! :) I would love to visit Indonesia someday!
I forgot to say, Thank you!
Tiago Gomes says
Thanks for this useful lesson! Greats tip!
Henk van Tilburg says
Dutch language: Ik heb een gat in mijn hoofd.
‘English’ : I’ve a gap in my head.
That’s awesome! It sounds good even in English. :)
Thank you teacher for this important lesson.
M. Angel says
Thanks for this lesson Melanie, I’m Enjoyed it.
I like these idioms expressions a lot which you have posted,thank you teacher
Thank you, it’ great
Akshay Pathak says
Wow! What a lesson you have delivered.it will help me a lot and I hope I will not forget it.Thanks a lot
Martha yim says
Thank you madam for the great lesson. I have learned a lot.
José Roberto, Brazil says
Dear Teacher, Melanie, thank you,
At my country, Brazil, is very common people saying: “Deu um branco” like in English
“I’m drawing a blank.”
Use this phrase when you try, but you just can’t remember something, and your mind is blank or empty.
Example: Don’t you remember, Leonardo? You talked to him the at the game last night.
– I’m drawing a blank.
Thanks to your lesson I guess I know proper and good expressions to use when I’ll lost something. I was accustomed to this expression: I have forgotten.
Is it wrong or right?
Thanks one more time.
Hi, Patrick! Welcome!
You guess? Or now you know the expressions to use because of this lesson?
“I have forgotten.” – What have you forgotten? This is not common in American English. If someone asks you about something, you can say “I forgot.”
You can use “I have forgotten _______” if you just realized that you forgot something. For example, “Oh shoot. I’ve forgotten my wallet.” However, it is more common to hear “I forgot my wallet.”
Anshul wrally says
Really this was very helpful. ..I enjoyed these expressions .thank you MAM…..
Mam if I want to ask more questions …how can ask you directly …
Very useful lesson. Thanks.
Madhushanka from Sri Lanka says
Great madam, I learn a lot from from your lessons. thanks a lot..May you live long !!!!
Thanks teacher i like it
Thank you for the wonderful lessons.
Can we use “from” after slipped? For example: How can I forgot her birthday? It completely slipped from my mind?
No, it’s a fixed expression. You can’t change it!
Also, be careful with your question form:
“How could I forget her birthday? It completely slipped my mind!”
Oh yes, I hereby to thank you teacher for your unforgettable and constructive effort especially in this lesson about 7 useful English phrases to say when someone forgets something. I insist saying THANK YOU and never slip in your mind to send me the weekly lessons or novelty. Have a nice day teacher!
Thank you for your kind words, Roberto! I am happy that you enjoyed the lesson. I think you wanted to say “slip your mind”! It’s a fixed expression. You can’t change it or add your own words to it! :)
VAN V. says
I APPRECIATE VERY MUCH THIS lesson ‘cose you help teaching my TVET trainee
In our language, if you forgot something you can say: “byanshanze!”/ “ntibiza vuba!”>that is Kinyarwanda l’ge
Thanks for your lesson!
In France we have a similar expression than Spanish one’s when we forgot to take some thing:
Quand on n’a pas de tête, il faut avoir des jambes !
By the way
What do you propose when the “senior moment” become a “permanent senior moment” ?
May be I got Alzheimer illness but I can’t remember !
It’s the best to laugh
Melanie mam this ate really simple and useful…..please can u give me tips about how to improve my english..because i have problems in many aspects…in grammer..vocabulary..speaking …etc
I used to say “I have forgotten” but I read it from your comment that it is not proper to use it, I won’t use it anymore. Thank you so much! The topic is so useful. God bless you more with more wisdom and blessings to continue in helping us speak grammatically correct English!
“It went in one ear and out the other.”
Thai people say this” kkao hoo sai thaloo hoo khwa”
Kao = go into
Hoo = ear
Sai = left( side)
Hoo sai = left ear
Khwa = right ( side)
Taloo = (go) through
Thank a lot for your lesson
Thank you for teaching me Thai, Nui! It’s interesting that English and Thai have the same expression!