Improve your English: idioms about memory

Learning English involves a lot of memorization of the rules, different words, and different phrases. Sometimes we learn something in English and can recall it pretty quickly, and sometimes we forget what we learned, only to be reminded of it later. Today, we are going to look at idioms that we can use to talk about our memory (or the lack of it).
1. Jog someone’s memory – This is when someone suddenly remembers something. For example, to say ‘it jogged my memory’, means that something made me remember something. “Showing her this book will jog her memory”, means that the book will help her remember something.

2. In one ear and out the other – Have you ever lectured a child about something they did wrong? Sometimes if you look at their face while you are lecturing them, they might be looking at you but obviously not listening to anything that you are saying. This is when we would use the phrase ‘in one ear and out the other.’ This phrase means that someone is hearing you, but not listening to you. That is, someone hears what you are saying but they aren’t paying attention to the words, and therefore won’t remember what you’ve just told them.

3. Take a trip down memory lane – This is one of my favorite things to do. ‘Taking a trip down memory lane’, is when you look back and reminisce about the past.

4. Ring a bell – This phrase is used when a person remembers something but their memory about it is a little vague. For example, if your English teacher asks about conditionals and you had read something about how to use them, but can’t remember everything about them, you could say: “Conditionals only kind of ring a bell.”

5. Slip one’s mind – This phrase is used when you forget something, and given how forgetful I am, I use this phrase at least once a day! Obviously the phrase is used to describe something that you had forgotten but now remember. It is usually something minor and therefore easily forgotten. For example, “I was supposed to pick up milk at the supermarket, but it slipped my mind.”
Now that you have learned some useful phrases for talking about your memory (or the lack of it), try to incorporate these phrases in your spoken English.

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