it didn't register.


Senior Member
Topic sentence: She told me her telephone number, but it didn't register.
Copied from original title. Cagey, moderator

Should we change this sentence to "...but it wasn't registered"?
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  • SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Should we change this sentence to "...but it wasn't registered"?
    "Should" questions need context, and we don't have context.

    "but it wasn't registered" begins to sound as the passive voice with no explicit agent, meaning that "someone" didn't put the phone number in some sort of list/register. This is the verb "register" in the sense of "put information on a list."

    "but it didn't register" means that the phone number didn't stay in my mind, for whatever reason. This is the verb "register" in the sense of "not holding in the mind." "Doesn't/didn't register" is, to me, an idiom.

    And so there is change in meaning, as to which meaning should be used, that can only be answered in context.


    Senior Member
    English-US, standard and medical
    We should not change the sentence, unless we want to change the meaning.
    "Didn't register" refers to both recognition and recall, and is an idiom. It does not mean "I was unable to memorize it."
    For example: "She told me her phone number but it didn't register (on me that it was actually the local police station's number.)"
    It's an odd statement to make about a phone number, in any case, since most people cannot remember a number that long on first hearing. Unless perhaps the sentence comes from some historical period when there were phone numbers like TH(ornwall) 867.