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If you're asking someone a question like,

Did you ate?

or

Did you eat?

I always have a problem with this word usage. When I want to ask someone if they ate or they didn't.

  • 1
    It is called "do-support"; we use the auxiliary "do" to from questions. You may like to search "do-support" on the internet. – Cardinal Sep 6 '16 at 8:24
  • A simple rule to remember: you don't have to conjugate to eat, because you already conjugated to do. After do, you just use the bare infinitive. – stangdon Sep 6 '16 at 14:55
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You would never say "Did you ate?". In this specific context you would use "Did you eat?" or "Have you eaten?"

You can use "Ate" as a verb to simplify other sentences, for example: "I ate today" rather than "I have eaten today".

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Ate is the preterite conjugation of eat and is used when conjugating without the verbs "do" or "have" (therefore, you do not use "ate" when asking a question, only when stating a fact).

Examples:

  • "I ate that."
  • "We ate your food, Blake."

Eat is the infinitive form and is used when conjugating alongside the verb "do", such as when giving a command or asking a question about whether an action took place.

Examples:

  • "Do not eat that or I'll take away your phone."
  • "Did you eat my empanadas?"

Eaten is the past participle and is used when conjugating alongside the verb "have", such as when asking about the current state of the subject of the sentence or stating something that is not necessarily a fact.

Examples:

  • "Have you eaten today?"
  • "Have you ever eaten ravioli?"
  • "I might have eaten your leftovers."
  • "I would have eaten that if you didn't take it."

As mentioned by Avery Ross, these categories can often overlap depending on the tone that you want to convey. "I ate today" and "I have eaten today" are equivalent in meaning.


As an aside, you may use ate when asking questions, but only when it is not preceded by the verb "to do" (example: "You ate last night?"). However, this is usually confusing unless said in response to something that suggests that the subject did eat last night, such as an empty takeout container in the living room. When asking if the subject ate after talking about something unrelated, you should use eat (example: "Did you eat last night?").

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Remember this rule of thumb and would never be confused in the future: "Did is never followed by a word in the past tense". So "Did you ate?" is wrong because "ate" is in the past tense.

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