I forget is used for present tense and I forgot is used for past tense. Forgot is the past tense of the irregular verb forget, which means unable to remember something. It’s easy to see that I forget and I forgot have different tenses, but it can be hard to choose whether to use I forget or I forgot because of their subtle difference in meaning.
I forget or I forgot is usually followed by “what” or “how”. It’s used when a person can’t remember a detail of something. I forget and I forgot are likely used in complex sentence structures such as in narration, where nuances of meaning matter. Thus the usage of I forget or I forgot depends a lot on the narrative’s context.
When to Use I Forget
If someone still doesn’t remember or keeps forgetting something, I forget is the right phrase to use. It means trying to recall some information in the past but can’t remember it currently. It’s also possible that the person never knew something or can’t get the information right.
I forget when the deadline is, but our teacher said he’ll tell the class.
There’s no excuse for how I forget the name of my best friend’s boyfriend every time.
We talk about the price of groceries, utility bills, and I forget what else.
These are my little inventions. I forget how they work now.
Please accept my apologies because you always tell me, but I forget where to put my books again.
When to Use I Forgot
I forgot may be used when someone once knew a piece of information but couldn’t remember it. It could also be that at some time in the past, a person wasn’t able to remember something and they can recall it now. The focus is on the act or time when the memory was lost.
When I went to a secluded island one time, I forgot the way back, so I was trapped there for two days.
We moved to the tropics then I forgot what it felt like to have four seasons.
I’m sorry I forgot most of the things you told me that night and that I wasn’t able to move forward with my tasks.
They tried to soar together with me, but I was left behind because I panicked hard, and I forgot how to do the next step.
My girls and I were having so much fun that I forgot my problems that night.
I Forget vs. I Forgot: Is There a Difference?
The difference between I forget and I forgot may be subtle that they’re often used interchangeably. Context is necessary to figure out whether to use I forget or I forgot. Briefly, I forget is used when the person keeps forgetting something while I forgot refers to an act of forgetting in the past.
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Forget. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/forget
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). I forget. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/i-forget
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Forget. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/forget