Can a simple past tense question have a past perfect tense answer?

Q: Did you eat?

A: Yes, I had eaten.

Is the above correct?

As I wonder if a past perfect tense can solely exist without a simple past tense.

I understand a past perfect tense always comes with a simple past tense. But sometimes I can see a situation like the following, for instance, "He had met him before the party". So if the question is restricted to a (past) time, is it possible to give a past perfect tense reply?

1 Answer 1


No, that’s not correct. In that situation, you should simply say “yes, I ate”. That tense is reserved for describing events that happened even further in the past than another event being discussed. For example:

Did you eat before you went to the store? Yes, I had already eaten when I went to the store.

Both “going to the store” and “eating” happened in the past, but it’s important to specify that the eating occurred even further in the past.

Hope this helps!

  • Thank you, past perfect tense is no exception that goes with simple past? Did you guys see any exceptionals? Jul 28, 2021 at 3:43
  • I have further questions. Will you eat? No, I won't, I have eaten. Are you eating? No, I ain't, I have eaten. Are these correct? Jul 28, 2021 at 3:53
  • Yes, that’s the idea, although the second one sounds a little awkward and I can’t put my finger on why. As far as i can tell, they’re grammatically correct (aside from the “ain’t”). Jul 28, 2021 at 4:00
  • Okay. It should be, yes, I have eaten. Is it better? Jul 28, 2021 at 4:49
  • Hello Monique. In answer to your final question, 'ain't' is not a word that would ever be used outside a highly informal and dialect-specific situation. As someone learning English, it's not something you ever want to say, as it would seem very strange to listeners. So I'd rewrite your final example as "No I am not. I have eaten."
    – fred2
    Jul 29, 2021 at 14:59

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