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. See all posts by Stuart

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