In my language I can say "I don't remember I've ever watched that film" or "Never in my life have I remembered watching that film" to suggest that as far as I can remember I've never done something, or in a stronger sense that I can recall I never did something.

Do you, as a native speaker, use "don't remember" in such sense? Otherwise, what is the natural way to put it across?

Edit: Thanks guys for your inputs, but I still have a question. Let's say somebody told you your friend Ken has a ring, but as far as you know or could recall he doesn't have one. My immediate response would be like "Oh? But I don't remember he ever has a ring" Would this be okay? I know how it sounds, it may sound like I just forgot the fact that he has a ring. What would be a commonly used expression for such situation?

  • 3
    There's two uses of remember -- remember that, which has a that-clause proposition as an object: I remember that he had a red hat. There's also also remember in the sense of 'relive': I remember listening to him explain the problem. This sense requires a perceived or believed event, usually a gerund like listening. In the negative, these conflate -- if you don't remember something at all, you certainly can't relive it. Jun 27, 2016 at 15:32
  • "I don't remember ever seeing that film."
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 28, 2016 at 2:22
  • I would rather say "I don't think I've ever seen that [film]" Jun 28, 2016 at 15:52

2 Answers 2


The first one is simply wrong. The second is grammatically correct but very awkward. You would say

"I don't remember ever watching that film."


"I've never watched that film in my life."

The second is more emphatic and sure-sounding. In the first, you're allowing for the possibility that you have watched it but can't remember doing so at the moment.

  • Nice answer +1 max
    – Amit Verma
    Jun 27, 2016 at 16:46
  • 6
    I think "I don't remember if I've ever watched that film" is valid English. A missing "if" in translation seems to fall short of "simply wrong" in my book. That said, your version is more likely what a native English speaker would say.
    – JakeRobb
    Jun 27, 2016 at 19:34
  • @JakeRobb I think you've correctly identified the missing word in the OP's first sample sentence :) It is wrong without it, but perhaps you could say it's close to being right - just needs one word! Jun 28, 2016 at 7:27

There is a closer use to your examples , but it may be only UK English, which has more circumlocution. Example .1. "I don't remember if ..."

I don't remember if I've ever watched that film: the book was so vivid.
I don't remember if Jeremy was there; I only had eyes for his sister.

And .2. for the more emphatic sense: "I would have remembered."

I didn't see the film; I would have remembered.
The letter of warning/ apology/ resignation never arrived; I would have remembered.

which, for your example would be:

Never in my life did I see that film with [say, Jack Nicholson] the actor; I would have remembered.

Notice: "Never did I see... " (the restriction of diminished opportunity requires an inversion) is slightly more appropriate for portrait...

Dracula Ch16 Never did I see such baffled malice on a face, ...

Leigh Hunt - 1837 - Liberalism: Never did I see such a movement of generosity and gentleness in all affections , as these children evinced...

D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) on James Joyce. Never did I see such apparatus got ready for thinking, ...

...but “Never have I seen ...” is more usual with landscape or where the gaze is held.

Old Man and the sea: Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother.

Conan Doyle: Never have I seen such a mixture of strength and beauty and grace.

But see the research by SevenSidedDie below which clearly shows "Never have I..." is preferable.

  • 3
    FWIW, these phrasings would not be out of place in US English, although they are a touch more eloquent than you'd hear from our average citizen. :/
    – JakeRobb
    Jun 27, 2016 at 19:36
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    For "never in my life..." I would suggest using the perfect aspect: "...have I seen that film."
    – Kevin
    Jun 27, 2016 at 22:46
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    @ErikE “Never have I” vs. “Never did I”: apparently before ~1880 it was considered grammatical, and after ~1880 it wasn't. Never did I see such a stark Ngram. ;) (In other words and more seriously, “never did I” is somehow correct but sounds archaic.) Jun 28, 2016 at 0:53
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    @SevenSidedDie I can agree with that, it sounds poetic or archaic. But it is not what we should teach modern learners of English... Well I'll be! Never did I see such a lily-liveried, yellow-bellied scalawag! But keep in mind that "see a movie" doesn't mean the same thing as "beheld an object in a glance". It means closer to "attend the whole of a film's showing". That could change the analysis.
    – ErikE
    Jun 28, 2016 at 1:22
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    @Hugh Thanks for your explanation. I've edited my question above with another scenario. Would you have said "He doesn't have a ring; I would have remembered"?
    – Jack
    Jun 29, 2016 at 6:35

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