-2

It seems that the past tense of eat is both eat and ate. (OED.) I think ate is more prevalent. Is eat used in a certain region?

eat

▪ I. eat, v. (iːt)
pa. tense ate, eat (eɪt, ɛt, iːt). pa. pple. eaten (ˈiːt(ə)n).

13
  • Please quote the entry in its entirety, and better still, supply a link.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 21:01
  • The OED is the official Oxford English Dictionary whose annual subscription is about £95 until December 2019. If you have a library card you are allowed free access.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 21:05
  • 1
    The OED, under "forms" says " pa. tenseOE–ME æt, (ME æat), ME et(t, ME–15 ete, ME at, (ME hete), ME eet(te, 15–16 eate, 16–18 eat, 15– ate". *So it acknowledges past "eat" up to the 18th century, but not 19th.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 21:15
  • 1
    @EddieKal Morphology is a very general term; it is "the branch of grammar which studies the structure or forms of words [...]" (A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, 6th ed., p.314). This includes inflection, which in turn includes what was traditionally called conjugation (the inflection of verbs, i.e. the various forms that verbs can take). On this site we tend to put these questions under conjugations, which is more specific, but morphology isn't wrong, just not quite as specific as we might like.
    – user230
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 21:51
  • 1
    @EddieKal I didn't take it as a question about spelling, but rather about the range of preterite forms of eat in Present Day English (discussion of which can cover but is not limited to spelling).
    – user230
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 22:01

1 Answer 1

3

The past tense of "eat" is "ate" and nothing else in standard modern English.

The pronunciation of "ate" varies from dialect to dialect. For many it is "eit" for others (especially British RP speakers) it is "et".

In archaic and historic English there have been various other past tense form. The OED doesn't document just Current English, but historic English over the past 1000 years.

3
  • 1
    it would be useful to add something about how archaic it is. when was it last used in literature?
    – Toothrot
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 21:55
  • I don't see any relevance. If it was used 100, 200, 500 years ago. It is not used now.
    – James K
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 22:15
  • I thought eit = ate and et = eat. are you saying the preterite eat was pronounced exactly like the present?
    – Toothrot
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 2:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .