Oboeru - always te form?

Hi all,

I’ve noticed that “I don’t remember” and “do you remember” are written 覚えてない and 覚えていますか.

Am I right that these are te forms, literally “I am not remembering” and “are you remembering?” Is this just a quirk of Japanese that the word is used in present progressive, or is there some nuance I’m missing?

1 Like

I think so. If not it would mean I will not remember.

Jisho gives an example sentence using 覚えた but only for the meaning “to feel”:

That music really gets me.

This is the stative form rather than the continative form - 覚える is an instantaneous verb referring to the actual act of comitting something to memory, so the て-form refers to the state that you exist in after the verb has been completed. 覚えている = in a state of having comitted something to memory = remembers something.


I think 覚える itself mostly refers to the action of remembering itself, so if you want to say I have will memorized that you can say 覚えている for “I remembered that, and now am in a state of having remembered”.

Take this example sentence from Bunpro for example:

I still haven’t memorized them/it all, but I will definitely have them/it memorized by next week.

When speaking in the present tense it uses 覚おえている (I haven’t remembered that), but when speaking about changing that it uses 覚える since we are talking about the actual action of committing the information to memory and not the action of recalling it later.

Although I don’t have evidence to back it up I would expect 覚えた might be used if we were trying to say something like “Last night I memorized some new words” or something where we’re referring to the act of memorizing in the past tense, rather than recalling in the present.


This makes sense. Thank you everyone for giving me a lot to chew on.


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.