Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

how to remember names in English

Are you good at remembering names?

Do you ever struggle to remember somebody’s name when you are talking to them or referring to them?

Do you have any strategies for remembering names?

Do you recognize just how important it is to remember somebody’s name?

Today we’re going to look at why it’s so important to remember somebody’s name and how you can master this.


We have a question that has to do with dealing with names specifically.


Here’s my question:

 I’ve noticed that a lot of native speakers use the phrase “what’s his face / what’s her face” to talk about people when they don’t want to mention their name specifically.

They may do this because we know who they are talking about.

I would guess that it is kind of condescending and not very nice, but maybe that’s not always the case. What do you guys think about this expression? Do you use it a lot?



Recognizing The Importance

You have to first understand just how important it is.

The name that you have is your very own identification.

So when somebody doesn’t remember that, it shows that they may not care.

It shows that they may not have taken the time to get to know you on this level.

So there are two ways that I can see this phrase being used-it means “who is he/she again” basically.

Some people use alliteration or remember something about the person. Sometimes I will put someone in my phone as their first name and then how I met them.

This comes back to names as our identity and respecting people in general.


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Avoid Hurt Feelings

Saying something like “what’s his face” can be so rude and disrespectful.

Not only can it show that you don’t remember the name, but it also shows that you don’t care either.

Even if you use it in a conversation about a person in an indirect way, it can be disrespectful.

If you’re not sure of somebody’s name, then ask around.

It shows that you care if you actually take the time to learn this identification of an individual.

Names are personal and important, so you want to always keep that in mind.


Tips For Remembering Names

It can admittedly be hard to remember the names of EVERYONE you know.

If you forget somebody’s name you may feel guilty which can lead to negative feelings around the person.


  1. Really pay attention when being introduced. Think about the person’s name –remind yourself to listen for it. I so often will hear someone’s name and then realize I forgot it two seconds later–I wasn’t really listening! Maybe I was focused on a smile or what they were wearing. Listen!


  1. When the person tells you their name, look at them and repeat the name three times silently–or even repeat it out loud if you can. If you repeat it in your head, then you can keep saying silently until it’s stuck in your memory. If you say it out loud, repeat it just once and then look them in the eyes. This may help you to make a real tangible connection you can hold onto and look back on. 

You may find other tips or strategies help, but this is a good start.

Just remember that a name is an important part of somebody’s identity and that you never want to underestimate it.

Go here to get three strategies to remember someone’s name from Alan Headbloom.



It IS important to know and USE other people’s names.

Saying “what’s his or her face” shows a lack of respect.

It may mean that you don’t like that person or that you don’t care enough to learn their name.

If you don’t know someone’s name it’s okay, but try to figure out what it is by asking or describing that person specifically.

Names are deeply important, so don’t feel guilty if you forget, but make it a point to remember.

If in doubt try to use phrases that are respectful when you’re not sure.


If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. 

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