What is The Past Tense of Eat

Among the first action words that English learners pickup are those that include our everyday activities and routines, such as “to eat”.

Regardless of the language one is learning, “eat” is bound to be among the first verbs learned, because it is naturally also among the useful and important. We all need to eat, and so this verb gets top priority.

The past tense of “eat” is “ate” and the past participle is “eaten”.

What is the past tense of “eat”?

Eat (verb):

(1) To put food in one’s mouth, chew it up, and swallow, normally as a response to hunger

(2) (Informal) To be bothered or annoyed

  • Infinitive                       to eat
  • Simple Past                ate
  • Past Participle             eaten

Conjugation Table

 PronounInfinitiveSimple PastPresent PerfectPresent Continuous
Ieatatehave eatenam eating
You (sing.)eatatehave eatenare eating
He/She/Iteatsatehas eatenis eating
Weeatatehave eatenare eating
You (pl.)eatatehave eatenare eating
Theyeatatehave eatenare eating

Example Sentences Of The Verb Eat

(1) To put food in one’s mouth, chew it up, and swallow, normally as a response to hunger

  • I can’t believe I ate the entire cake…it was huge!
  • We ate lunch at a fantastic new restaurant on King’s Avenue
  • Please, let’s not talk about this subject when we are eating!

(2) (Informal) To bother or annoy

  • What’s eating you today?
  • He knew what was eating his sister, but he didn’t have the courage to go and talk to her about it

Focus: Past Tense of Eat

“Eat” is one of those verbs that you just have to know. There are other words that mean the same thing, but the simpler pronunciation of “eat” makes it an attractive starting point for new learners.

However, it’s important to learn this word not only in its simple present tense and gerund forms, but also in its past tense forms. Read on for more examples of “eat” being used in its past tense forms, including:

  • Simple past
  • Present perfect
  • Past continuous
  • Past perfect

Simple Past Of The Verb Eat

  • We ate far too much at dinner, and now we feel a bit uncomfortable
  • I went to his restaurant last month, and I ate their house speciality
  • His parents said that he ate so many blueberries as a child, they were afraid that he would turn blue

Present Perfect Of The Verb Eat

  • We have eaten everything on the menu already, do you have anything new?
  • The strangest thing I’ve ever eaten is barbecued scorpions
  • He has eaten lunch already, so you don’t need to prepare any food for him

Past Continuous Of The Verb Eat

  • They were eating their dinner together when the phone rang
  • He was eating for the entire morning, I think, so I don’t know how he’s going to have room for lunch
  • I was eating my oatmeal while watching my young nieces and nephews play in the garden

Past Perfect Of The Verb Eat

  • How many pieces of chicken had you eaten when you started to feel ill?
  • I had already eaten my appetizer by the time the waiter came back with the wine

How to Use “Ate” in a Sentence

“Ate” is the past tense of “eat” and can be used in sentences to talk about something that happened in the past. Let’s look at some examples:

  1. She ate her breakfast quickly because she was running late for school.
  2. We ate at the new Italian restaurant last night.
  3. I can’t believe I ate the whole pizza by myself.

Using “ate” in negative sentences:

  1. I ate nothing for dinner because I wasn’t hungry.
  2. He didn’t eat the vegetables that his mom prepared.

How to Use “Eaten” in a Sentence

“Eaten” is the past participle of “eat”. It is used with have/has in the perfect tenses. Here are some examples:

  1. I have eaten sushi before, but it’s not my favorite.
  2. She has eaten all the cookies that were in the jar.
  3. They have not eaten anything since morning.

“Eaten” can also be used in passive voice:

  1. The cake was eaten by the kids in no time.
  2. The food had been eaten when we arrived.

Understanding the Verb “Eat”

“Eat” descends from the Old English “etan,” meaning “to consume by mouth.” It’s a foundational verb that describes the act of ingesting food.

Phrasal Verbs with “Eat”

“Eat” plays a pivotal role in numerous phrasal verbs:

  • Eat up: To consume all the food served.
    • Please eat up, we made plenty of food.
    • The children ate up all the cookies.
  • Eat out: To have a meal in a restaurant rather than at home.
    • We usually eat out on Fridays.
    • Let’s eat out tonight; I don’t feel like cooking.
  • Eat away at: To erode or to be consumed by guilt or worry.
    • The river slowly ate away at the land.
    • Guilt was eating away at him after the argument.

Common Mistakes

Watch out for these common pitfalls associated with “eat”:

  • Incorrect: I eated all the pizza.
  • Correct: I ate all the pizza.
  • Incorrect: He has eat lunch at noon.
  • Correct: He has eaten lunch at noon.


Understanding the various forms of the verb “eat” is a key step in mastering English. The word “eat” is not just fundamental, but is also a good example to illustrate how English verbs change in different tenses.

In this article, we’ve delved into the past tense of “eat”, and provided plenty of examples for the simple past (“ate”) and past participle (“eaten”). With regular practice, you’ll find using these forms becomes second nature, enhancing your fluency and confidence in English.

Remember, language learning is a journey—keep exploring, keep learning, and most importantly, keep eating your way through English!

Further resources below

Now that you’ve gained a hearty understanding of the past tense of ‘eat’, why stop here? There’s a vast menu of other English verbs waiting to be explored and mastered. Whether you’re a beginner wanting to learn the basics or someone looking to refine their grammar, we have resources for every level.

Check out our other articles for more insights on past tense usage in English in the table below. If you’re interested in diving deeper into English verb tenses, explore our comprehensive collection of worksheets and resources here.

We’d also love to hear your thoughts on this article! Share your experiences of learning English verb tenses in the comments section below. Your insights could be the morsel of wisdom another reader needs. And remember, sharing is caring—don’t forget to pass along this article to other English language learners in your life. Let’s continue to learn and grow together!

We also have a full list of irregular verbs from A – Z on the site which you can access from the link here.

You can check other past tense words and our past tense resources by clicking on the links in the table below and in the resource list below that.

Table 2: Table of Links for irregular Past Tense Verbs

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We also have articles and worksheets which we will link examples of below, and if you need more you can try the search box.

I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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