Memories, Mother’s Day and Grammar

11 May 2023

Think back to one of your favorite memories. What do you remember? Is it a time that you think about often?

In this week's Everyday Grammar, we will share ways to talk about your memories, including verbal tenses and phrases that you can use to start talking about your memories. Let's take a trip down memory lane!

This weekend is Mother's Day. I want to celebrate by remembering my mom, Ellen. She was a writer. When I was growing up, she would sit at the kitchen table with either a pen and paper or her typewriter. Now, when I sit down to write, I am reminded of my mom.

Everyday Grammar: Memories, Mother's Day and Grammar
Everyday Grammar: Memories, Mother's Day and Grammar

The springtime also reminds me of her. She loved flowers. If my memory serves me right, she did not like red flowers. She loved yellow, pink and white flowers. Now that spring is here, she is on my mind more.

Let's look at some of the ways we can write about our memories.

Using the past tense

When we want to talk about our memories, we use the simple past tense.

In the first paragraph about my mom, I use the simple past of the verb "be." It is an irregular verb and has many forms. In the past tense, two forms are used, "was" and "were."

She was a writer.

They were inspired by her writing.

For regular verbs, like "love," we add the regular verb ending of "-ed."

She loved flowers.

We can also use "would" to talk in the past tense. "Would" can describe habitual actions in the past that are no longer done. Habitual means happening often or every day.

...she would sit at the kitchen table...

Lastly, we use the auxiliary or helping verb "do" to make a negative sentence. The past tense form of "do" is "did."

...she did not like red flowers...

Verbs and other phrases for remembering

There are other verbs and phrases that we use to help us introduce those memories in conversation.

The verb "remind" means to cause someone to remember someone or something.

The sentence structure for "remind" is:

Subject + remind + direct object + preposition "of"

The springtime also reminds me of my mom.

Springtime reminded me of her.

We can also use "remind" in the passive voice to express that a memory came into our mind or to say that we are reminded of something.

I am reminded of my mom when I sit down to write.

The sentence is passive because the agent, the "who" or "what" that reminded us, is missing. This works when we do not know the cause of what is acting on us. It is the opposite of the active voice in which the cause of the action is known.

We can use other phrases to introduce our memories. For example, in the second paragraph, I introduced more details using the phrase, "If my memory serves me right." This is an informal way to say, "If I remember correctly."

In the last paragraph, I used the prepositional phrase, "on my mind." This is a figurative phrase meaning that you are thinking or remembering someone or something. The structure is:

Subject + form of "be" + on + possessive pronoun + mind.

She is on my mind. (Simple present tense)

Final Thoughts

Today, we looked at different verbs, tenses and phrases we can use to talk about our memories. Whether it is remembering loved ones or events, these phrases can help you to talk about what you remember.

Now for some homework. Use these verbs and phrases to share a memory. Remember to use the past tense. Is it a person you remember or an event that happened? Hopefully, it is a memory that you think about often. Write to us in the comments or send your memory message to We may share your message in a future Everyday Grammar.

I'm Faith Pirlo.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

phrasen. a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence

typewriter – n. a machine that prints letters or figures on a sheet of paper when a person pushes its keys

inspired – adj. having a particular cause or influence

passive voice n. a way of writing or speaking that uses passive verbs where the subject receives the action of a verb

active voice n. a way of writing of speaking that uses active verbs where the subject performs the action of the verb

figurative adj. used with a meaning that is different from the basic meaning