Between the following, which is acceptable/preferable and why?

  • I had my lunch.
  • I ate my lunch.

Both are acceptable, and both can mean that the speaker had eaten a lunch. Because had is a versatile word with several meanings, though, "I had my lunch" can also be used in other contexts, where it means something different. For example:

Sarah asked if I wanted to go with her to get lunch in the cafeteria, but I had my lunch.

(In other words, I had brought my own lunch from home.)

My wife saw my lunchbox on the countertop, so she called to ask if I had my lunch.

(In other words, Did I have my lunch with me? Or did I inadvertently leave it at home?)

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Both are grammatical, but might be found in different contexts. As both use a verb in the past tense, they both refer to the eating of lunch at a particular time in the past, and would usually continue with some further elaboration.

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