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Thread: Ate vs Eaten

  1. #1
    Ulysses is offline Junior Member
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    Default Ate vs Eaten

    The other day, I was talking to a friend and this conversation stuck out in my mind.

    Me: Have you eaten yet?
    Friend: Yes, I have eaten.

    I felt something strange about the use of 'eaten' instead of 'ate'. Both are in past tense but is there rule for when I should use 'ate' and what other times should I use 'eaten'?

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    crazYgeeK is offline Member
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    Default Re: Ate vs Eaten

    Hi, I think "ate" is the only past form of the verb "eat" and "eaten" is the past participate form, it is usually used with the auxilliary "have/has".
    Hope this can help.
    Thank you !

  3. #3
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Ate vs Eaten

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulysses View Post
    The other day, I was talking to a friend and this conversation stuck out in my mind.

    Me: Have you eaten yet?
    Friend: Yes, I have eaten.

    I felt something strange about the use of 'eaten' instead of 'ate'. Both are in past tense but is there rule for when I should use 'ate' and what other times should I use 'eaten'?
    ********** NOT A TEACHER **********

    Hello, Ulysses.

    (1) I think that it might be easier to understand if we refer to a

    specific meal.

    (2) Tom: Have you eaten breakfast yet?

    Martha: Yes, I have. / No, I haven't.

    Tom would probably ask that question in the morning hours because the

    word breakfast reminds us of the morning.

    If Tom asked a question at, for example, 2:30 p.m., he would probably

    ask:

    Did you eat breakfast today? (The morning is past.)

    (And Martha would reply: Yes, I did./ No, I didn't. I was too busy./ I wasn't hungry.)

    *****

    If it is 2:30 p.m., you could say to your friend:

    I know how busy you have been today. Have you eaten lunch yet?

    Your friend might answer: No, I haven't. The boss has kept me very

    busy. I'm going to have lunch now. Do you want to join me? And you

    might say: Oh, thanks a lot, but I have already eaten lunch. (In

    "regular" English, you could say: Oh, thanks, but I ate lunch. It would be

    "perfect" English if you added the time: Oh, thanks, but I ate lunch at

    12:30.)

    ***

    If it were 7:30 p.m., you might ask: Have you eaten yet? It would not

    be necessary to say "dinner," because we think of "dinner" when it is

    evening time. Of course, the next day, you would ask: By the way, did

    you eat dinner last night? Your friend would answer: Yes, I did./ No, I

    didn't. I didn't feel well last night.

    ***

    When it comes to meals, you use the present perfect (Have you eaten?)

    when it is the proper time of the day for breakfast or lunch or dinner.

    You use the past (Did you eat?) when you ask about a meal that usually

    occurs in an earlier part of the day. (At 7:30 p.m., you would ask:

    Did you eat lunch today? The word lunch makes us think of the

    afternoon -- not the evening.)

    Thank you

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