How is it possible in Japanese language to express concepts of recall and remembrance?

I mean, recall is generally referred to the way we take out something from our memory which is related to people, situations and experiences of our life.

On the other hand, remembrance is the way we successfully recall not an experience, but something we learnt, something we were taught about.

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    I don't think that in regard to memory and experience, remember and recall have the strong difference in connotation you are suggesting. There may be some very small difference, but in common usage they are extremely close synonyms. It is only in recall's other usages that it differs.
    – rintaun
    Dec 5, 2012 at 2:58
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    Apologies, there is one more difference: remember can be used to mean "keep something in memory" (e.g. I'll remember that) whereas recall can only mean "bring back from memory".
    – rintaun
    Dec 5, 2012 at 3:05
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    Your claim about the difference between “recall” and “remember” is questionable, and it is unclear what you are trying to ask. Can you revise the question so that it becomes a standalone question about Japanese independent of what the difference between “recall” and “remember” might be? Dec 28, 2012 at 23:52

2 Answers 2


@Andry covered the differences pretty well. But two other words you can use for "recall" are 思い起こす and 思い浮かべる. AFAIK they all mean pretty much the same thing, although I'm not aware of any nuances they might carry.

  • I didn't know these two words and was quite surprised to understand they both are 普通名詞. Nice post!
    – Andry
    Dec 29, 2012 at 22:52
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    If you understand what the question is, can you edit it so that it is understandable to those who do not know the difference between “recall” and “remember” in English? Andry seems to be claiming that 覚える means “bring back some knowledge from memory” and that 思い出す means “bring back some personal memory,” but this is entirely false, so I have no idea what you guys are talking about, honestly speaking. Dec 29, 2012 at 23:18
  • @Troyen: Neither. I am asking for clarifications for what Andry wanted to ask. Because istrasci seems to understand Andry’s intended question, I asked istrasci about the possibility that he can clarify the question. Dec 29, 2012 at 23:25
  • @TsuyoshiIto The question claims there is a slight conceptual difference between "recalling" something and "remembering" something and is asking if there is a way to distinguish between those concepts in Japanese. The definitions in the OP are slightly ambiguous though and could be made clearer.
    – Troyen
    Dec 29, 2012 at 23:31
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    @Troyen: Thanks, the new link worked. rintaun’s comment is correct, but as I understand it, it is completely different from the questionable claim written in the question. If the question were about how to distinguish “bring back from memory” and “keep in memory” in Japanese, then I think that it would be a good question, but then it should be written so (especially without mentioning “related to people, situations and experiences of our life” or “not an experience, but something we learnt, something we were taught about”). Dec 29, 2012 at 23:57

When I studied verbs implying remembrance and recall, I learned that there are some differences. So I will write down what I know.

Remembering something learnt

Consider something you learned. It can be 2 minutes ago or 2 years ago, it does not matter. When you learn something it gets inside you for the rest of your life. What happens when we want to use the things we learned? We try to remember them.

In these situations you use 覚{おぼ}える.

だって皆{みな}、昨{き}日{のう}習{なら}った事{こと}をまだ覚{おぼ}えているのか。 => So everyone, do you remember the things we learned yesterday?

昨{き}日{のう}は急{きゅう}に故{ふる}郷{さと}の帰{かえ}り道{みち}を覚{おぼ}えたんだよ! => Yesterday, suddenly, I remembered the way back home in my birthplace.

Recalling something

Consider something you saw or heard some days ago. Consider some old memory or memento of yours. When it comes to memories, to things you saw and memorized inside of your mind/spirit/heart you should use 思{おも}い出{だ}す.

Of course this implies learning, but it is different. We learn things that will turn useful in our life. When it comes to memories, they are just things we store inside of us. They are not really useful (practically speaking).

ええ、無{む}理{り}ですよ!その人{ひと}は子{こ}どもの時{とき}に会{あ}った人{ひと}だからさ、名{な}前{まえ}が思{おも}い出{だ}せないよ! => What? This is impossible! That man is someone I met when i was a kid so, I cannot recall him!

クリスマスの時{とき}にくれたプレゼントを思{おも}い出{だ}せなくて、ごめんね〜 => I am not recalling the present you gave me, I am sorry...

Furthermore consider that 思{おも}い出{で} means memory or reminiscence.

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    覚える describes the change of state from not having something as a knowledge to having something as a knowledge, and 昨日は急に故郷の帰り道を覚えたんだよ does not make sense. Nov 28, 2012 at 23:05
  • I guess that sentence should be reviewed, but the definition I gave I believe being ok because it is the way my teachers explained me the difference between these two verbs. It is an easier way to understand the difference I think rather than the real and more general definition... btw I am going to think about a better example sentence...
    – Andry
    Nov 29, 2012 at 19:21
  • So everyone, do you remember the things we learned yesterday? -- 「さあ、みなさん、昨日習ったことを覚えていますか?」じゃないんですかね?よく学校の先生が言うやつ。昨日は急に故郷の帰り道を覚えたんだよ <-- ???
    – chocolate
    Mar 19, 2018 at 2:34

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