As an example, in a legal setting:

Do you recall what color the car was?
Do you remember what color the car was?

Which would be more appropriate?

3 Answers 3


Semantically, they are equivalent in the example you've given.

Either is appropriate. But, for whatever reason, recall seems to be preferred by the legal set.

The difference in the actual meanings of the words: Recall means to call back into one's consciousness. I don't recall the actual date of our conversation.

Remember means to retain in memory. It usually implies a personal experience with the subject matter. Did you remember to lock the door?. Source

This example is actually where the two differ. Recall cannot be used in the sense of not forget to do. Source

  • What is the difference in the phrase "the author's feeling about what he recalls and cannot remember about his youth"? Dec 7, 2015 at 21:38
  • 2
    @Doeser There is, in fact, very little difference there. The likelihood in this case is that the author would use both words to avoid redundancy rather than a shift in meaning.
    – David M
    Dec 8, 2015 at 21:53

The usage of remember and recall in this circumstance is not wrong, but remember and recall have slightly different meanings:

  • Recall: It is used when you trigger something (in this case mind) to get some information from your your mind.

    Example: Today I lost my cell phone when we hung together, would you please recall where I left my phone?

    (Here your friend wants you to go back into the past and look where they may have left their phone.)

  • Remember: It is used when something is ready to be used in your mind.

    Example: I remember her name.

    (Here if you say that "I recall her name," it means you go back into the past and try to collect her name from your stored memory.)


You can substitute "not to forget" with "remember", but not with "recall". Example: you're going to the store and your wife tells you to "please, don't forget to pick up diapers" (Please, remember to pick up diapers."). You don't use "recall" for this.

  • 1
    Hello, Tess. David M said this a long time ago: 'Recall cannot be used in the sense of not forget to do'. Jul 24, 2015 at 10:02

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