Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Do you ever forget things?

"We must go back, I forgot my cell phone in your car". In English or in Portuguese we almost always use the verbs "forget and "esquecer" the same way. We forget things or people or we forget to do something. However, in English, it´s not possible to say a sentence like this one: "Temos de voltar. Esqueci meu telefone celular no seu carro". Simply because in English we don´t forget things somewhere. We just say "I forgot my cell phone". If we want to mention the place, we have to use the verb "leave". "I left my cell phone in your car" So the first sentence is wrong. It should have been:"We must go back, I left my cell phone in your car".
Adapted from Como não aprender Inglês by Michael A. Jacobs
Do you always pay attention to that?


  1. Living and learning ...

    Honestly, even though the first sentence does sound strange, I would not be able to correct it. This example shows how deeply our mother tongue interferes with the learning process.

  2. There are mistakes I made in Portuguese and thus also wrong in English. We need learn to speak English well, also think in English!
    Congratulations for the blog is very useful!

    Matheus Vasconcellos ( Danuza- plus 5 )

  3. Congratulations for the blog !
    I did'nt know about this , it will be very useful !
    It's such a nice blog and I could learn a lot !

    Natália Alvarenga - plus 5

  4. That's a real problem... we usualy think in portuguese, that's why we made this kind of mistake. I should look for it. =) This Blog is verry nice... Congratulations.

  5. @Danuza
    Dear Danuza,
    Thanks for the great tip! Even my advanced candidates forget how to use "forget" properly sometimes.

  6. This will be very useful for me.

  7. Firstly, Congratulations for the blog!It's totally useful!!!
    That's for sure a really good advice!When I first got here in USA I used to say this sometimes,and other stuff like: "I let the door opened", as long as "let" and "leave" can have the same meaning in Portuguese: "deixar". However,sometimes, the meaning is totally different in English, since "let", in the majority of the cases, means "permitir"! Concluding, the right way to say this sentence would be: I left the door opened.

    Thank you for the advice and I hope I'll help other people!!!

    Manuela Curcio

  8. @Manuela @Danuza

    Hi girls,
    You're right! Awareness is key. This might explain why some people have lived in England or in the USA ( or in any other English-speaking country) for years and never learn to speak proper English. Maybe they aren't aware of the details that make all the difference.

  9. wow that just blow my mind...
    really cool!!
    thanks for the advises!

  10. WOW!
    This is the type of thing that always makes me wonder if I do speak English!
    I'd never realized or even thought about this difference before. :/ In fact, I can't even remember whether I've ever said it like this!
    I can't forget a CAE class I had some years ago when Chris taught us the proper pronunciation of words such as "house" and "close (adj.)": I felt soooooo stupid!
    But I reckon these are the things that deeply change our English, you know. After all, being aware of such details is what attracts me to learning.

  11. @Pri,

    I am pretty sure that even after having known the right way to use it, I must have made the mistake.The Portuguese interference is too strong. I am glad that in the end the blog turnned out to be real fun for all of us. Thanks for being our mentor together with Nelson

  12. @Pri

    Hi Pri,

    Would you say that having prepared for Cambridge exams has helped you become more aware of such details?

  13. Very useful!

  14. This is really useful indeed. To be candid, sometimes I don´t pay attention to these details that for sure make the difference in an exam or even in a daily conversation.
    The blog is helping me not only to learn new vocab and idioms but also to watch out concerning some details of the English language.
    Keep posting! =)

  15. @Manuela
    There´s always something new to learn; the more practice you get there the more you´ll get rid of Portuguese interference; it´s also a question of awareness; of being alert and whenever there´s a doubt, resort to dictionaries

  16. @Durval and Daniel,

    I am glad you´re taking advantage of the blog; I hope you keep following it

  17. @Larissa,

    Many times an advanced student will know so many more sophisticated structures and lexical items but will come to the conclusion the he/she doesn´t know these simple little things; as Nelson said, being advanced starts with small talk in the elevator and goes all the way to reading literature

  18. @Chris,
    Absolutely! I remember that before preparing for the exams I didn't pay much attention to my collocations, for example. And since I've started teaching I'm more and more focused on this type of detail 'cause this makes all the difference when it comes down to helping and teaching sts properly.

  19. @Pri

    Yes! Teaching teaches teachers (ha! ha! ha!) things that they may never have bothered to learn as students.
    Don't just love being a teacher? I do!

  20. Wisdom and teachers are inestricably linked.We are constantly studying and being tested.I love being a teacher!!I rever my dearest teacher Chris who is a sign of renown. Her classes are mesmerising!!
    Love you!!

  21. I already knew about "leave" but it is new for me that we can say "I forgot my cell phone"
    The blog is really great and helpful!
    Congrats everyone!
    FCE - Patrícia

  22. Hi! Finally I'm here!
    It's funny, because I've always used the verb 'leave' instead of 'forget' but I've never realized that you don't 'forget something somewhere'... I'm sure this blog will be very useful for all of us, both students and teachers! Thanks a lot!
    Kisses Mariana