7 Professional Ways to Say “I Forgot”

Forgetting something is common, but it can be awkward, especially in a professional setting. Saying “I forgot” might not always sound professional or polite.

This article explores seven other ways to express that you forgot something without losing professionalism. Each alternative is explained with sample email examples to show you exactly how to use them in real-life situations.

Is It Professional to Say “I Forgot”?

When it comes to professional settings, the phrase “I forgot” can feel less than professional. It often comes across as informal and might not always be suitable for every situation at work. However, its acceptability greatly depends on the context in which it is used, the relationship with the recipient, and the communication medium.

Using “I forgot” might be more acceptable in less formal email exchanges or conversations with colleagues you have a close working relationship with. It’s less suited for situations involving clients, superiors, or formal reports. When communicating through email, where tone can be harder to gauge, it’s especially important to consider how this phrase might be perceived.

Email example:

Hi Tom,

Just realized I forgot to attach the document to my last email. Here it is.



  • Direct and straightforward.
  • Conveys honesty.
  • Can be seen as personable in the right context.


  • Might come off as unprofessional in formal contexts.
  • Could imply carelessness or lack of attention to detail.
  • Possibly affects the speaker’s credibility or reliability.

Someone might want to consider using an alternative phrase, not because “I forgot” is inherently wrong but because different words might convey the message more professionally or courteously. Doing so can help maintain a level of professionalism and respect, particularly in formal communications or with important stakeholders.

7 Other Ways to Say “I Forgot”

Here are seven alternative phrases that can be used instead of saying “I forgot”.

  1. I missed this
  2. I overlooked this
  3. It slipped my mind
  4. I failed to recall
  5. It didn’t stick in my memory
  6. I had a lapse in memory
  7. It escaped my memory

1. I missed this

Compared to “I forgot,” “I missed this” sounds more professional and less inadvertent. It implies an oversight rather than complete forgetfulness, which could be viewed as more acceptable in a professional setting. This alternative suggests a momentary miss rather than a total disregard.

This alternative is better suited for workplace emails or communications where you need to maintain a professional tone. It works well with colleagues or managers and is appropriate for emails and reports where a degree of formality is required. It subtly acknowledges the oversight without conveying negligence.

Here’s a quick example:

Hi Lisa,

I just realized I missed this in our earlier correspondence. Here are the details you requested.


2. I overlooked this

“I overlooked this” maintains a professional and formal tone, suggesting a slight error rather than a failing of memory. It has a nuance of being busy or distracted, which can be perceived as more acceptable in certain environments. This wording hints at a mistake but still retains a responsible tone.

It is particularly apt for use in more formal communications with supervisors or clients where you want to acknowledge an error without diminishing your credibility. Email and official reports are ideal mediums for this phrase, as they often demand a balance between professionalism and the need to admit an oversight.


Hi Jonathan,

Apologies, I overlooked this detail in our previous discussion. Attached is the information you needed.


3. It slipped my mind

This phrase is comparatively more informal than “I forgot,” offering a light-hearted way to admit a memory lapse. It’s suited for less formal situations and conveys a gentler admission of forgetting something. This synonym softens the message, making it seem less severe.

Used with close colleagues or in environments where a relaxed atmosphere prevails, “It slipped my mind” is perfect for emails or informal meetings. It’s not the best choice for critical client communications or high-stakes situations, but it works well for internal team messages.

Email example:

Hey Mike,

Sorry for the trouble, it just slipped my mind yesterday. I've added those figures you asked for below.


4. I failed to recall

“I failed to recall” is a more formal and polite alternative to “I forgot.” It suggests a temporary inability to remember something, which could make it seem like a less serious oversight. This phrase carries a sense of responsibility and earnestness.

This option is more suitable for communications with a high degree of professionalism, including emails to clients, official requests, or when addressing senior management. It’s respectful and conveys a serious effort to remember, making it ideal for more formal exchanges.

Sample email:

Dear Ms. Thompson,

Upon review, I realized I failed to recall a key piece of information during our last meeting. Please find the corrected data attached.


5. It didn’t stick in my memory

While more on the informal side, “It didn’t stick in my memory” is a polite way to express forgetfulness. It implies that despite efforts, the information did not remain in one’s memory. This phrase portrays humility and human error.

Suitable for more relaxed office environments or in communications with peers you share a good rapport with. It’s great for emails and casual conversations but might not fit well in extremely formal or external communications.

Here’s an example:

Hi Sophia,

I went over our notes and realized it didn’t stick in my memory. Could you resend the briefing document?


6. I had a lapse in memory

“I had a lapse in memory” sounds professional and somewhat formal. It implies a brief moment where something was forgotten, suggesting it’s an uncommon occurrence. This wording is respectful and takes ownership of the mistake without sounding too casual.

This phrasing is appropriate for communication with colleagues, managers, and even clients, provided the overall tone of the message remains professional. It’s well-suited for emails and formal meetings where admitting a mistake without compromising your professionalism is necessary.

Email example:

Hello Team,

In preparing for our upcoming deadline, I recognized I had a lapse in memory regarding the project requirements. Let's discuss this further in our meeting.

Kind regards,

7. It escaped my memory

Like “I overlooked this,” “It escaped my memory” is both professional and formal, providing a polished way to admit forgetting something. It communicates a momentary oversight rather than a significant mistake, which can ease the admission of the oversight.

This choice is excellent for communication with senior management or in situations where a high degree of formality is required. It works well in written communications such as emails and official letters where maintaining a respectful tone is crucial.


Dear Dr. Hughes,

I must apologize, as it escaped my memory to confirm our appointment time. Could we reschedule for later this week?

Best wishes,

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right words when you’ve forgotten something can make a big difference in a professional setting. The seven alternatives provided offer a variety of ways to handle such situations with grace and professionalism. Depending on who you’re talking to and the formality of the situation, some phrases will work better than others.

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