Confusing words: forget, leave

We use forget something and leave something differently.

Here are the important differences that English learners need to know:

Forget something

We use forget something to say that we accidentally left something behind. We don’t say where.

  • I’ve forgotten my phone – I’ll have to go back home for it.
  • He got wet because he forgot his waterproof jacket.

Leave something

We use leave something when we say where (at home, on the bus, etc.).

  • I left my phone at home this morning and had to go back for it.
    I forgot my phone at home.
  • I left my umbrella on the bus.
    I forgot my umbrella on the bus.

We also use leave something to say that it was intentional, i.e. it wasn’t a mistake:

  • I left those books in the office because they’re too heavy to carry. I’ll bring them home in the car next week.
    I forgot those books because they’re too heavy.

forget vs. leave speakspeak

Now try this quick exercise and test yourself on forget and leave:

questionsscoregoes here

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Stuart is an English teacher and runs the Speakspeak website. He currently lives in Prague and has been teaching for over 20 years. Follow Stuart and contact him by subscribing to his monthly newsletter.

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