I'm writing a story in past tense, in first person. The character is discussing the vagaries of his memory of events in the further past. "I remembered" seems to have the wrong connotation here - he can still remember presumably in the present, rather than having specifically accessed the memory at this point in the story. Similarly, "I can recall" and similar phrases.


"The thing about Aelfheim is that the more time you spend there, the more it plays tricks on your mind. [...] When I left Aelfheim, I didn't just leave the place and people behind; I left a part of myself. I don't think I'll ever recover all the memories I made there, not without becoming once more the being I was there. However, I remember Eve."

To say "I remembered Eve" would imply that he recalled Eve at a specific point in time - I want to say that he has the memory of Eve in his mind even when other memories are gone. Every other sentence other than those relating to memory is in past tense of some kind - does the shift read alright? And should I be doing it continuously throughout the section of flashbacks dealing with his spotty memory?

Digression: I don't really like the feel of "I didn't think I would ever recover the memories" because that, to me, implies that he has recovered the memories by the time the story is being told - "I didn't think I would X" implies "but I did" in my head.

  • 1
    ... I never forgot Eve?
    – TRiG
    Oct 13, 2012 at 21:34

2 Answers 2


I think you have it written correctly. "I remember Eve" means that at the moment he's speaking, he does in fact remember her. To say "I remembered Eve" means that at some point (in the past) he didn't remember Eve, and then at some point (still in the past, but more recently), he did remember her again.

The same with "I don't think I'll ever recover" because he is again talking about what's happening in the present moment. (Actually he's making a prediction: he thinks it will never happen in the future.)


Yes, I think it's right. It's a memory, but the character is talking about parts of it he still remembers, and how the place still is, to this day - how things stand at this point in time.

If you started talking about Eve, you might then go into past tense, as he would then be talking about what she was like back when he knew her. So, he says that he still remembers her (present), then talks about what she was like (past).

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