Remember vs Remembered? What’s the difference?

We use “remember” when we bring forward a memory in the present and ”remembered” when this action happens in the past. “Remembered” is more common than “remember” as we often need to show that we “remembered” something in order to fulfill another action.


Oh, I remember when we were children and we could hear the waves crashing on the beach.

I remembered to put a stamp on the letter before I sent it.


“Remember” is the present simple form of the verb “to remember”. We usually use the present simple for habitual actions in the present. 


I always remember to turn off the lights before I go to bed.

I can never remember to take my tablets!

“To remember” is a stative verb which means that we don’t usually use it in the continuous form. If the action of bringing a memory forward happens now, then we usually use the present simple.


I remember when we were young and the grass was green.

We often use “remember” in this way when we are feeling nostalgic. In some cases, when the memory is difficult to recall, we may use the present continuous.


What are you doing mother?

I am remembering the time when we went to the circus when you were a child.

If you are having more difficulty in retrieving the memory, you can use “trying to remember”.

I am trying to remember the time when we went to the beach. 


We use “remembered” in the past simple. We use the past simple for completed actions in the past.


I remembered to take out the trash yesterday.

In this case, the recall of the memory took place in the past. 

Remember To or Ing?

One of the most difficult aspects of the verb “to remember” is that the meaning of the sentence changes depending on if “remember” is followed by a gerund(ing verb) or an infinitive(to+verb).

When we use the ing form of the verb after remember, we are saying that we have the memory of doing something.

I remember going to the supermarket but I don’t remember driving home!

We use the infinitive after “remember” when we have an obligation to fulfill.

I remembered to cut the grass.

Let’s consider:

I remember picking up John after the disco.

I remembered to pick up John after the disco.

Both sentences could be possible. In the first sentence, you are stating that you have the memory of collecting John. In the second sentence, you are stating that you did what you were supposed to do.