Eaten or Ate: Here’s The Correct Version (With Helpful Examples)

Once you are finished eating, what is the correct term to use? Well, that all depends on what you’re trying to infer, and by that, I mean, why were you finished eating?

I know that sounds a bit confusing, but this article will make everything clearer.

Today, we’ll cover the difference between Ate and Eaten and provide you with a load of examples to make it easier for you.

Is “eaten” or “ate” correct?

“Ate” is a past tense verb. To be said when you’re referring to a specific moment in time.

“I ate pie for dinner”.

“Eaten” is a past participle verb. When referring to the generic past or your present state.

“I have eaten pie before”.

“Eaten” can also be used as an adjective.

“An eaten cake isn’t any use”.

Past ParticipleEaten
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When “ate” is correct

“Ate” is in the past tense. This means it’s used to talk about an action- either in the recent past or at a specific moment in the past.

To be clear, you don’t always need to say when you took this action. However, it can be implied. For example, if I ask, “What did you eat at the party?” you don’t need to say, “I ate cake at the party last night”.

Because it’s a verb, this means you’re talking about an action that you took.

7 examples of “ate”

“Fanny and her mammy always ate in “de Missis kitchen.”

“Homemade dumplings were about the most exotic of the foods we ate, exotic for me anyway.”

“This was from Dr Robert Ho Man Kwok, who said he suffered a series of inexplicable symptoms each time he ate at a Chinese restaurant.”

“He wiped the leaves off his shoes, dried his hair, ate a piece of cheese, undressed.”

“The grasshoppers ate their crops.”

“In general, the more vegetables that people ate, the more fruit they consumed”

“Wolter and Ellis (2001) found that heavy pigs (5.4 kg at 20 days) grew faster and ate more than light pigs”.

Eaten as a past participle

“Eaten” is more likely to be what’s known as a “past participle”. To make that a bit less confusing, a “past participle” is when you talk in the present perfect about an action in the past. Ok, that might not help.

When you say “I have eaten”, what you are saying is that “In my current state right now, a fact about me is that at some unknown point in the past, I ate….”

The word “eaten”, when said as a verb, will usually be preceded by “have”.

4 examples of “eaten” as a past participle

“Should you ask people known to be, or not to be, sick whether they have eaten tripe?

“The children will have eaten all the candy before the party tomorrow. “

“The God of Hosts Who sitteth above the Cherubim, for the food that we have eaten; when there are present ten thousand beside himself he says, Bless ye.

“What the cutting locusts have not eaten, the swarming locusts have eaten. And what the swarming locusts have left, the hopping locusts have eaten. And what the hopping locusts have left, the destroying locusts” have eaten.”

Eaten as an adjective

As well as being a verb, “Eaten” can also be an adjective. In case you forgot, an adjective is a descriptive word. To describe something as “eaten” is to describe it as being in a state in which somebody ate it in the past.

So an “eaten cake” is a cake that somebody might have eaten yesterday.

One common adjective phrase with the word “eaten” is “half-eaten”. The “half-eaten” cake is always disappointing.

7 examples of “eaten” as an adjective

“More than 80 years earlier a story of an eaten pet had featured in a novel by the Victorian writer William Makepeace Thackeray.”

“The eaten plants were higher in protein and PEP, but lower in potassium.”

“he laid the obituary section back down on the table next to a half-eaten croissant.”

“This human works to remove himself from the realm of the thing by reducing the animal to an eaten object.”

“There were the eaters and the eaten.”

“Lila pointed to a half-eaten pan of asparagus casserole and said, “This here.”

“On the other side of the fig tree, there was an eaten bromeliad next to part of the cow’ s vertebrae.”

I haven’t eaten or I haven’t ate?

One question that many people have at this point is, “What about the negatives?”

You would say, “I haven’t eaten” because you’re talking in the present tense about your current state. In your current state, food has not yet entered your body.

However, you would also say, “I didn’t eat”, because here, you’re talking about an event that didn’t happen in the past.

“I haven’t eaten North Korean food before. So I’m excited to try it.”

“I didn’t eat at the party last night. I was too drunk”.

I eated soap

If you “ask” a question, in the future, you can say, “I asked a question”. If you “walk” to the shops, in the future, you can say “I walked to the shops”. So why can’t you say “I eated a pie”?

To tell the truth, there is no real reason. The English language isn’t ruled by logic. It’s ruled by democracy. Which means we have plenty of words that break the standard rules. For that reason, you “ate” a pie. You didn’t “eated” a pie.

Because “eated” is such a nonsense word, the phrase “If I eated soap, no I don’t eat it because I did. No I didn’t” is funny.


And there we have it. That is the difference between “eaten” and “ate”. At first, it might seem like the two are interchangeable, or even that one of them is incorrect.

However, both are actual words that you can find in most dictionaries, but when you should use them depends on the tense of the sentence you’re speaking in.

Next time you’re talking about food to someone, you’ll now know whether you should say “eaten” or “ate”.

The English language can have many very confusing rules, and it probably doesn’t help that we keep breaking our own rules.